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K  W.  £OYCE,   LL.D. 

One  ef  the  Commissioners  for  the  Publication  of  the  Ancient  Laws  of  Ireland 






VOL.    L 

Cynallam  cimceall  na 



DUBLIN:  M  .  H.  GILL   AND   SON 


WORKS   BY   P.  W.   JOYCE,  LL.D. 

i.  A  Child's  History  of  Ireland  (down  to  the  Death  of 
O'Connell),  with  specially  drawn  Map  and  161  Illus- 
trations, including  a  Fac-siraile  in  lull  colours  of  a 
beautiful  Illuminated  Page  of  the  Book  of  MacDurnan, 
A.D.  850.  Sanctioned  by  the  Commissioners  of  National 
Education,  Ireland,  as  a  Reader  in  their  Schools ;  and 
by -the  London  School  Board  for  Scholars*  Lending 
Libraries  and  for  attendance  prizes.  3$ .  6d. 

a.  A  Short  History  of  Ireland,  down  to  1608.  Second 
Edition,  los.  65. 

3.  Outlines  of  the  History  of  Ireland,  down  to  1900. 

Fifth  Edition.     g<t. 

4.  Old  Celtic  Romances.    Twelve  of  the  most  beautiful  of 

the  Ancient  Irish  Romantic  Tales  translated  from  the 
(jaelic.     Third  Kdition.     3$.  6d. 

5.  The  Origin  and  History  of  Irish  Names  of  Places. 

Seventh  Kdition.     In  two  vols.    Each  5$. 

6.  A  Handbook  of  School  Management  and  Methods  of 

Teaching.    Eighteenth  Edition  (851)1  thousand).    3$.  6d. 

7.  A  Reading  Book  in  Irish  History.     Second  Edition. 

is.  6</. 




8.  A  Concise  History  of  Ireland,   down  to  1837.    Fifth 

Kdition.     2.1. 
O.  Ancient   Irish  Music,   containing  One   Hundred  Airs 

never  before  published,  and  a  number  of  Popular  Songs. 

Cloth,  3$.:   Wrapper,  is.  (,d. 

10.  Irish  Local  Names  Explained,     is. 

11.  A  Grammar  of  the  Irish  Language,     is. 

12.  English  Composition  for  the  Use  of  Schools.  Seventh 

Edition.     bJ. 

M.   H.   GILL  AND    SON,    DUBLIN. 

[Numbers  1,5,  6,  10,  n,  and  12  sanctioned  by  the  Commis- 
sioners of  National  Education,  Ireland,  for  sale  in  their 



cimcheall    wa 

— LET  us  WANDER 
ROUND  IRELAND  :  So  wrote  the 
topographer,  John  O'Dugan,  five 
hundred  years  ago,  when  begin- 
ning his  poetical  description  of 
Ireland,  and  so  I  address  my  readers 
to-day.  The  journey  will  be  at  least  a  novel 
one;  and  to  those  who  are  interested  in  the 
topography  of  our  country,  in  the  origin  of  local 
names,  or  in  the  philosophy  of  language,  it  may 
be  attended  with  some  instruction  and  amusement. 
The  materials  of  this  book  were  collected,  and 
the  book  itself  was  written,  in  the  intervals  of 
serious  and  absorbing  duties.  The  work  of  col- 
lection, arrangement,  and  composition,  was  to  me 
a  never-failing  source  of  pleasure;  it  was  often 
interrupted  and  resumed  at  long  intervals;  and 

«T.  Preface. 

if  ever  it  involved  labour,  it  was  really  and  truly 
a  labour  of  love. 

I  might  have  illustrated  various  portions  of  the 
book  by  reference  to  the  local  etymologies  of 
other  countries ;  and  this  was  indeed  my  original 
intention ;  but  I  soon  abandoned  it,  for  I  found 
that  the  materials  I  had  in  hands,  relating  ex- 
clusively to  my  own  country,  were  more  than 
enough  for  the  space  at  my  disposal. 

Quotations  from  other  languages  I  have,  all 
through,  translated  into  English;  and  I  have 
given  in  brackets  the  pronunciation  of  the  prin- 
cipal Irish  w/>rds,  as  nearly  as  could  be  repre- 
sented by  English  letters. 

The  local  nomenclature  of  most  countries  of 
Europe  is  made  up  of  the  languages  of  various 
races :  that  of  Great  Britain,  for  instance,  is  a 
mixture  of  Celtic,  Latin,  Anglo-Saxon,  Danish, 
and  Norman  French  words,  indicating  successive 
invasions,  and  interesting  and  valuable  for  that 
very  reason,  as  a  means  of  historical  research ; 
but  often  perplexingly  interwoven  and  difficult 
to  unravel.  In  our  island,  there  was  scarcely 
any  admixture  of  races,  till  the  introduction  of 
an  important  English  element,  chiefly  within  the 
last  three  hundred  years — for,  as  I  have  shown 
(p.  105),  the  Danish  irruptions  produced  no 
appreciable  effect;  and  accordingly,  our  place- 
names  are  purely  Celtic,  with  the  exception  of 
about  a  thirteenth  part,  which  are  English,  and 

Preface.  til 

mostly  of  recent  introduction.  This  great  name 
system,  begun  thousands  of  years  ago  by  the 
first  wave  of  population  that  reached  our  island, 
was  continued  unceasingly  from  age  to  age,  till  it 
embraced  the  minutest  features  of  the  country  in 
its  intricate  net- work ;  and  such  as  it  sprang 
forth  from  the  minds  of  our  ancestors,  it  exists 
almost  unchanged  to  this  day. 

This  is  the  first  book  ever  written  on  the 
subject.  In  this  respect  I  am  somewhat  in  the 
position  of  a  settler  in  a  new  country,  who  has  all 
the  advantages  of  priority  of  claim,  but  who 
purchases  them  too  dearly  perhaps,  by  the  labour 
and  difficulty  of  tracking  his  way  through  the 
wilderness,  and  clearing  his  settlement  from 
primeval  forest  and  tangled  underwood. 

On  the  journey  I  have  travelled,  false  lights 
glimmered  every  step  of  the  way,  some  of  which 
I  have  pointed  out  for  the  direction  of  future 
explorers.  But  I  have  had  the  advantage  of  twc 
safe  guides,  Dr.  John  O'Donovan,  and  the  Rev. 
William  Reeves,  D.D. :  for  these  two  great  scho- 
lars have  been  specially  distinguished,  among  the 
honoured  labourers  in  the  field  of  Irish  literature, 
by  their  success  in  elucidating  the  topography  of 

To  the  Rev.  Dr.  Reeves  I  am  deeply  indebted 
for  his  advice  and  assistance,  generously  volun- 
teered to  me  from  the  very  beginning.  He 
examined  my  proposed  plan  of  the  book  in  the 

viii  Preface. 

first  instance,  and  afterwards,  during  its  progress 
through  the  press,  read  the  proof  sheets — all 
with  an  amount  of  attention  and  care,  which 
could  only  be  appreciated  by  an  actual  inspection 
of  the  well  annotated  pages,  abounding  with 
remarks,  criticisms,  and  corrections.  How  in- 
valuable this  was  to  me,  the  reader  will  understand 
when  he  remembers  that  Dr.  Reeves  is  the 
highest  living  authority  on  the  subject  of  Irish 

My  friend,  Mr.  William  M.  Hennossy,  was 
ever  ready  to  place  at  my  disposal  his  great 
knowledge  of  the  Irish  language,  and  of  Irish 
topography.  And  Mr.  O'Longan,  of  the  Royal 
Irish  Academy,  kindly  lent  me  some  important 
manuscripts  from  his  private  collection,  of  which 
I  have  made  use  in  several  parts  of  the  book. 

I  have  to  record  my  thanks  to  Captain  Berdoe 
A.  Wilkinson,  R.E.,  of  the  Ordnance  Survey,  for 
his  kindness  in  procuring  permission  for  me  to 
read  the  Manuscripts  deposited  in  his  office, 
Phoenix  Park.  And  I  should  be  guilty  of  great 
injustice  if  I  failed  to  acknowledge  the  uniform 
courtesy  I  experienced  from  Mr.  Mooney,  Chief 
Clerk  in  the  same  office,  and  the  readiness  with 
which  both  he  and  Mr.  O'Lawlor  facilitated  my 

I  have  also  to  thank  the  Council  of  the  Royal 
Irish  Academy  for  granting  me  permission — 
long  before  I  had  the  honour  of  being  elected  a 

Preface.  ix 

member  of  that  learned  body — to  make  use  of 
their  library,  and  to  consult  their  precious  collec- 
tion of  Manuscripts. 
.DUBLIN,  July,  1869. 

THE  following  is  a  list  of  the  principal  historical 
and  topographical  works  on  Ireland  published 
within  the  last  twenty  years  or  so,  which  I  have 
quoted  through  the  book,  and  from  which  I  have 
derived  a  large  part  of  my  materials : — 

The  Annals  of  the  Four  Masters,  translated  and  edited 
by  John  O'Donovan,  LL.D.,  M.R.I.A. ;  published 
by  Hodges  and  Smith,  Dublin ;  the  noblest  histo- 
rical work  on  Ireland  ever  issued  by  any  Irish 
publisher — a  book  which  every  man  should  pos- 
sess, who  wishes  to  obtain  a  thorough  knowledge 
of  the  history,  topography,  and  antiquities  of 

The  Book  of  Bights;  published  by  the  Celtic  Society; 
translated  and  edited  by  John  O'Donovan. 
Abounding  in  information  on  the  ancient  tribes 
and  territories  of  Ireland. 

The  Battle  of  Moylena :  Celt.  Soc.  Translated  and 
edited  by  Eugene  O'Curry,  M.B.I.A. 

The  Battle  of  Moyrath:  Irish  Arch.  Soc.  Trans- 
lated and  edited  by  John  O'Donovan. 

The  Tribes  and  Customs  of  the  district  of  Hy-Many : 
Irish  Arch.  Soc.  Translated  and  edited  by  John 

jt  Preface. 

The  Tribes  and  Customs  of  the  district  of  Hy- 
Fiachrach :  Irish  Arch.  Soc.  Translated  and 
edited  by  John  O'Donovan  (quoted  as  "Hy- 
Fiachrach  "  through  this  book).  * 

A  Description  of  H-Iar  Connaught.  By  Roderick 
O'Flaherty:  Irish  Arch.  Soc.  Edited  by  James 
Hardiman,  M.B.I.A. 

The  Irish  version  of  the  Historia  Britonnm  of  Nen- 
nius  :  Irish  Arch.  Soc.  Translated  aud  edited  by 
James  Henthorn  Todd,  D.D.,  M.RI.A. 

Archbishop  Colton's  Visitation  of  the  Diocese  of 
Derry,  1397:  Irish  Arch.  Soc.  Edited  by  the 
Rev.  William  Reeves,  D.D.,  M.B.I.A. 

Cambrensis  Eversus.  By  Dr.  John  Lynch,  1662 : 
Celt.  Soc.  Translated  and  edited  by  the  Rev. 
Matthew  Kelly. 

The  Life  of  St.  Columba.  By  Adamnan  :  Irish  Arch, 
and  Celt.  Soc.  Edited  by  the  Rev.  William 
Reeves,  D.D.,  M.B.,  V.P.R.I.A.  This  book  and 
the  next  contain  a  vast  amount  of  local  and  his- 
torical information,  drawn  from  every  conceivable 

Ecclesiastical  Antiquities  of  Down,  Connor,  and  Dro- 
more.  Edited  by  the  Rev.  William  Reeves,  D.D. 
M.B.,  M.R.I.A.  (Quoted  as  the  "Taxation  of 
1306,"  and  "  Reeves'  Eccl.  Ant."). 

The  Topographical  Poems  of  O'Dugan  and  O'Heeren  : 
Irish  Arch,  and  Celt.  Soc.  Translated  and  edited 
by  John  O'Donovan. 

The  Calendar  of  the  O'Clerys;  or,  the  Martyrology 
of  Donegal ;  Irish  Arch,  and  Celt.  Soc.  Trans- 
lated by  John  O'Donovan.  Edited  by  Jamer 

Preface.  xi 

Henthorn  Todd,  D.D.,  M.R.I.A.,  F.S.A.  -.  and  the 
Rev.  William  Beeves,  D.D.,  M.R.I. A.  (quoted  as 
"O'C.  CaL"). 

The  Wars  of  the  Gaedhil  with  the  Gaill.  Published 
under  the  direction  of  the  Master  of  the  Rolls. 
Translated  and  edited  by  James  Henthorn  Todd, 
D.D.,  &c.  (Quoted  as  "Wars  of  GG.")- 

The  Chronicon  Scotorum.  Published  under  the  di- 
rection of  the  Master  of  the  Rolls.  Translated 
and  edited  by  William  M.  Hennessy,  M.R.I.A. 

Cormac's  Glossary;  translated  by  John  O'Donovan; 
edited  by  Whitley  Stokes,  LL.D. 

Lectures  on  the  Manuscript  Materials  of  Ancient 
Irish  History;  delivered  at  the  Catholic  University 
by  Eugene  O'Curry,  M.R.I.A.  Published  by 
James  Duffy,  Dublin  and  London. 

The  Ecclesiastical  Architecture  of  Ireland ;  compris- 
ing an  Essay  on  the  Origin  and  Uses  of  the 
Round  Towers  of  Ireland.  By  George  Petrie, 
R.H.A.,  V.P.R.I.A. 

Among  these,  I  must  not  omit  to  mention  that  most 
invaluable  work  to  the  student  of  Irish  Topography 
and  History,  "  The  General  Alphabetical  Index  to 
the  Townlands  and  Towns,  the  Parishes  and  Ba- 
ronies of  Ireland  :"  Census  1861:  which  was  ever 
in  my  hands  during  the  progress  of  the  book,  and 
without  the  help  of  which,  I  scarcely  know  how  I 
should  have  been  able  to  write  it. 

I  have  also  consulted,  and  turned  to  good  account, 
the  various  publications  of  the  Ossianic  Society, 
which  are  full  of  information  on  the  legends, 
traditions,  and  fairy  mythology  of  Ireland. 

xii  Preface. 

On  the  most  ancient  forms  of  the  various  Irish  root- 
words  and  on  the  corresponding  or  cognate  words 
in  other  languages,  I  have  derived  my  information 
chiefly  from  Professor  Pictet's  admirable  work, 
"  Les  Origines  Indo-Europeennes,  on.  les  Aryas 
Primitifs  :  "  Zeuss'  masterly  work,  "  Grammatica 
Celtica,"  in  which  the  author  quotes  in  every  case 
from  manuscripts  of  the  eighth,  or  the  beginning 
of  the  ninth  century :  Ebel's  Celtic  Studies : 
translated  by  Wm.  K.  Sullivan,  Ph.D.,  M.B.I.A. : 
Irish  Glosses ;  a  Mediaeval  Tract  on  Latin  Declen- 
sion, by  Whitley  Stokes,  A.B. ;  and  an  Edition 
with  notes  of  Three  Ancient  Irish  Glossaries 
by  the  same  accomplished  philologist. 


Lectures  on  the  Manners  and  Customs  of  the  Ancient 
Irish.  By  Eugene  0' Curry,  M.R.I. A.  Edited, 
with  Introduction,  Appendices,  &c.,  by  W.  K 
Sullivan,  Ph.  D.  Published  in  1873. 





CHAPTER    I. — How  the  Meanings   have  been  ascer- 
tained, ......        1 

CHAPTER    II. — Systematic  Changes,         .        .        .        .17 

CHAPTER  III. — Corruptions ,47 

CIIAPTKK  IV. — False  Etymologies ,69 

CHAPTJJB    V. — The  Antiquity  of  Irish  Local  Names,       ,      76 



CHAPTER        I. — Historical  Events,         ,        ,        .        ,  86 

CHAPTER      II. — Historical  Personages,           ...  121 

CHAPTER    III. — Early  Irish  Saints,        ....  142 

CHAPTER      IV. — Legends, 159 

CHAPTER        V. — Fairies,  Demons,  Goblins,  and  Ghosts,  178 

CHAPTER       VI. — Customs,  Amusements,  and  Occupations,  200 

CHAPTER     VII. — Agriculture  and  Pasturage,  .         .         .  227 

CHAPTER  VIII. — Subdivisions  and  Measures  of  Land,     .  241 

IX. — Numerical  Combinations,      .         .         •  246 






.    266 

CHAPTER  I. — Habitations  and  Fortresses, 






CHAPTER  VII.— Mills  and  Kilns, 

—Ecclesiastical  Edifices,    .        .        .        .312 
— Monuments,  Graves,  and  Cemeteries,     .     329 

. — Towns  and  Villages 347 

— Fords,  Weirs,  and  Bridges,     .         .         .    385 
— Roads  and  Causeways,  .         .  370 
















—Mountains,  Hills,  and  Rocks,       .        .  378 

—  Plains,  Valleys,  Hollows  and  Caves,   .  422 

—Islands,  Peninsulas,  and  Strands,          .  440 

—Water,  Lakes,  and  Springs,           .         .  446 

—Rivers,  Streamlets,  and  Waterfalls,      .  454 
— Marshes  and  JJogs,         .         .        .         .461 

— Animals,         *••*••  ^®& 

—Plants, 491 

—Shape  and  Position,       .         .        .  522 


I.M>tX  Of  UOOT  \VOK1J3, 







>|  HE  interpretation  of  a  name 
involves  two  processes  :  the 
discovery  of  the  ancient 
orthography,  and  the  de- 
termination of  the  meaning  of 
this  original  form.  So  far  as 
Irish  local  names  are  concerned, 
the  first  is  generally  the  most 
troublesome,  while  the  second,  with  some  excep- 
tions, presents  no  great  difficulty  to  an  Irish 

There  are  cases,  however,  in  which,  although 

we  have  very  old  forms  of  the  names,  we  are  still 

-unable  to  determine  the  meaning  with  any  degree 

of  certainty.     In  somo  of  these,  it  is  certain  that 

VOL.  i.  2 

2  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.      [PARTI 

we  are  not  in  possession  of  the  most  ancient 
orthography,  and  that  the  old  forms  handed  down 
to'us  are  nothing  more  than  corruptions  of  others 
still  older ;  but  in  most  cases  of  this  kind,  our 
ignorance  is  very  probably  due  to  the  fact  that 
the  root- words  of  which  the  names  are  composed 
became  obsolete  before  our  most  ancient  manu- 
scripts were  written.  Names  of  this  class  chal- 
lenge the  investigation,  not  so  much  of  the  Irish 
scholar,  as  of  the  general  philologist. 

With  respect  to  the  names  occurring  in  this 
book,  the  Irish  form  and  the  signification  are, 
generally  speaking,  sufficiently  well  known  to 
warrant  a  certain  conclusion  ;  and  accordingly,  as 
the  reader  may  observe,  I  have  interpreted  them 
in  almost  all  cases  without  any  appearance  of 
hesitation  or  uncertainty.  There  are  indeed  names 
in  every  part  of  the  country,  about  whose  mean- 
ing we  are  still  in  the  dark ;  but  these  I  have 
generally  avoided,  for  I  believe  it  to  be  not  only 
useless  but  pernicious  to  indulge  in  conjecture 
where  certainty,  or  something  approaching  it,  is 
not  attainable.  I  have  given  my  authority  when- 
ever I  considered  it  necessary  or  important ;  but 
as  it  would  be  impossible  to  do  so  in  all  cases 
without  encumbering  the  book  with  references, 
and  in  order  to  remove  any  doubt  as  to  the  correct- 
ness of  the  interpretations,  I  shall  give  here  a  short 
sketch  of  the  various  methods  by  which  the 
meanings  have  been  ascertained. 

I.  A  vast  number  of  our  local  names  are  per- 
fectly intelligible,  as  they  stand  in  their  present 
Anglicised  orthography,  to  any  person  who  has 
studied  the  phonetic  laws  by  which  they  have 
been  reduced  from  ancient  to  modern  forms. 
There  can  be  no  doubt  that  the  Irish  name  of 
Carricknadarriff,  in  the  parish  of  Annahilt 

CHAP.  i/]   How  Meanings  have  been  ascertained.      3 

county  of  Down,  is  Carraig-na-dtarbh,  the  rock 
of  the  bulls ;  that  Boherboy,  the  name  of  a  vil- 
lage in  Cork,  and  of  several  places  in  other 
counties,  means  yellow  road  (Bothar-buidhe) ;  or 
that  Knockaunbaun  in  Galway  and  Mayo,  signifies 
white  little  hill. 

But  this  process  requires  check  and  caution  ; 
the  modern  forms,  however  obvious  in  appearance, 
are  often  treacherous ;  and  whoever  relies  on  them 
with  un watchful  confidence  will  sooner  or  later  be 
led  into  error.  Carrick-on-Suir  is  what  it  appears 
to  be,  for  the  Four  Masters  and  other  authorities 
write  it  Carraig-na-Siuire,  the  rock  of  the  Suir ; 
and  it  appears  to  have  got  its  name  from  a  large 
rock  in  the  bed  of  the  river.  But  if  anyone 
should  interpret  Carrick-on-Shannon  in  the  same 
way,  he  would  find  himself  mistaken.  The  old 
English  name  of  the  town  was  Carrickdrumrusk. 
as  it  appears  on  the  Down  Survey  map ;  but  the 
first  part  should  be  Carra,  not  Carrick,  to  which 
it  has  been  corrupted ;  for  the  place  got  its  name 
not  from  a  rock,  but  from  an  ancient  carra  or 
weir  across  the  Shannon ;  and  accordingly  the 
Four  Masters  write  it  Caradh-droma-ruisc,  the 
weir  of  Drumroosk.  Drumroosk  itself  is  the 
name  of  several  townlands  in  the  north-western 
counties,  and  signifies  the  ridge  of  the  roosk  or 

II.  In  numerous  other  cases,  when  the  original 
forms  are  so  far  disguised  by  their  English  dress, 
as  to  be  in  any  degree  doubtful,  they  may  be  dis- 
covered by  causing  the  names  to  be  pronounced  in 
Irish  by  the  natives  of  the  respective  localities. 
When  pronounced  in  this  manner,  they  become 
in  general  perfectly  intelligible  to  an  Irish  scholar 
— as  much  so  as  the  names  Queenstown  and  New- 
castle are  to  the  reader.  Lisnanees  is  the  name 

4  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [PAUT  i. 

:>f  a  place  near  Letterkenny,  and  whoever  would 
indertake  to  interpret  it  as  it  stands  would  pro- 
bably find  himself  puzzled  ;  but  it  becomes  plain 
enough  when  you  hear  the  natives  pronounce  it 
with  a  g  at  the  end,  which  has  been  lately 
dropped  : — Lios-na-naosg  [Lisnaneesg],  the  fort 
of  the  snipes  (naosg,  a  snipe). 

There  is  a  small  double  lake,  or  rather  two 
little  lakes  close  together,  three  miles  from  Glen- 
garriff  in  Cork,  on  the  left  of  the  road  to  Castle- 
town  Bearhaven.  They  are  called  on  the  map? 
Lough  Avaul — a  name  I  could  never  understand, 
till  I  heard  the  local  pronunciation,  which  at  once 
removed  the  difficulty ;  the  people  pronounce  it 
Lough- aw-woul,  which  anyone  with  a  little  know- 
ledge of  Irish  will  recognise  as  Loch-dha-bhall, 
the  lake  of  the  two  spots,  a  name  that  describes  it 
with  perfect  correctness. 

Take  as  another  example  Ballylongford  near 
the  Shannon  in  Kerry :  as  it  stands  it  is  deceptive, 
the  first  part  of  the  name  being  apparently  Bally 
a  town,  which  in  reality  it  is  not.  I  have  a 
hundred  times  heard  it  pronounced  by  the  natives, 
who  always  call  it  in  Irish  Beal-atha-longphuirt 
[Bellalongfort],  the  ford-mouth  of  the  fortress. 
The  name  was  originally  applied  to  the  ford  over 
the  little  river,  long  before  the  erection  of  the 
bridge ;  and  it  was  so  called,  no  doubt,  because 
it  led  to  the  longphort  or  fortress  of  Carrigaf oyle, 
two  miles  distant.  (See  Ballyshannon). 

Of  this  mode  of  arriving  at  the  original  forms 
of  names  I  have  made  ample  use ;  I  have  had 
great  numbers  of  places  named  in  Irish,  either  in 
the  very  localities,  or  by  natives  whom  I  have  met 
from  time  to  time  in  Dublin  ;  and  in  this  respect 
I  have  got  much  valuable  information  from  the 
national  schoolmasters  who  come  twice,  a  year 

CHA?.  i.]  Hou)  Meanings  have  been  ascertained.      5 

from  every  part  of  Ireland  to  the  Central  Training 
Establishment  in  Dublin.  But  in  this  method, 
also,  the  investigator  must  be  very  cautious  ;  names 
are  often  corrupted  in  Irish  as  well  as  in  English, 
and  the  pronunciation  of  the  people  should  be 
tested,  whenever  possible,  by  higher  authority. 

The  more  intelligent  of  the  Irish-speaking  pea- 
santry may  often  assist  the  inquirer  in  determining 
the  meaning  also ;  but  here  he  must  proceed  with 
the  utmost  circumspection,  and  make  careful  use 
of  his  own  experience  and  judgment.  It  is  very 
dangerous  to  depend  on  the  etymologies  of  the 
people,  who  are  full  of  imagination,  and  will 
often  quite  distort  a  word  to  meet  some  fanciful 
derivation;  or  they  will  account  for  a  name  by 
some  silly  story  obviously  of  recent  invention,  and 
so  far  as  the  origin  of  the  name  is  concerned,  not 
worth  a  moment's  consideration. 

The  well-known  castle  of  Carrigogunnell  near 
the  Shannon  in  Limerick,  is  universally  under- 
stood by  the  inhabitants  to  mean  the  candle  rock, 
as  if  it  were  Carraig-na-gcoinneall ;  and  they  tell 
a  wild  legend,  to  account  for  the  name,  about  a 
certain  old  witch,  who  in  times  long  ago  lived  on 
it,  and  every  night  lighted  an  enchanted  candle, 
which  could  be  seen  far  over  the  plain  of  Limerick, 
and  which  immediately  struck  dead  any  person 
who  caught  even  its  faintest  glimmer.  She  was 
at  last  vanquished  and  destroyed  by  St.  Patrick  ; 
but  she  and  her  candle  are  immortalised  in  many 
modern  tourist  books,  and,  among  others,  in  Mrs. 
Hall's  "Ireland,"  where  the  reader  will  find  a 
well-told  version  of  the  story.  But  the  Four 
Masters  mention  the  place  repeatedly,  and  always 
call  it  Carraig-0-gCoinnell,  with  which  the  pro- 
nunciation of  the  peasantry  exactly  agrees ;  this 
admits  of  no  exercise  of  the  imagination,  and 

6  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [PART  1. 

banishes  the  old  witch  and  her  candle  more 
ruthlessly  than  even  St.  Patrick  himself,  for  it 
means  simply  the  rock  of  the  O'Connells,  who 
were  no  doubt  the  original  owners. 

The  meaning  of  a  name,  otherwise  doubtful, 
will  often  be  explained  by  a  knowledge  of  the 
locality.  Quilcagh  mountain  in  the  north-west  of 
Cavan,  near  the  base  of  which  the  Shannon  rises, 
is  called  in  Irish  by  the  inhabitants  Cailceach 
[Calkagh],  which  literally  signifies  chalky  (Ir. 
cailc,  chalk  ;  Lat.  calx] ;  and  the  first  view  of  the 
hill  will  show  the  correctness  of  the  name ;  for  it 
presents  a  remarkably  white  face,  due  to  the 
presence  of  quartz  pebbles,  which  are  even  brought 
down  in  the  beds  of  streams,  and  are  used  foi 
garden- walks,  &c. 

Carrantuohill  in  Kerry,  the  highest  mountain 
in  Ireland,  is  always  called  throughout  Munster, 
Carraunthoohill,  and  the  peasantry  will  tell  you 
that  it  means  an  inverted  reaping-hook,  a  name 
which  is  apparently  so  absurd  for  a  mountain,  that 
many  reject  the  interpretation  as  mere  silliness. 
Yet  whoever  looks  at  the  peak  from  about  the 
middle  of  the  Hag's  Valley,  will  see  at  once  that 
the  people  are  quite  right ;  it  descends  on  the 
Killarney  side  by  a  curved  edge,  which  the  spec- 
tator catches  in  profile,  all  jagged  and  serrated 
with  great  masses  of  rock  projecting  like  teeth, 
without  a  single  interruption,  almost  the  whole 
way  down.  The  word  tuathail  [thoohill]  means 
literally  left-handed  ;  but  it  is  applied  to  anything 
reversed  from  its  proper  direction  or  position ;  and 
the  great  peak  is  most  correctly  described  by  the 
name  Carran-tuathail,  for  the  edge  is  toothed  like 
the  edge  of  a  carrdn,  or  reaping-hook ;  but  it 
is  a  reaping-hook  reversed,  for  the  teeth  are  on  a 
convex  instead  of  a  concave  edge. 

CHAP.  i.J  Hoic  Meanings  have  been  ascertained.       ' 

III.  The  late  Dr.  O'Donovan,  wliile  engaged  in 
the  Ordnance  Survey,  travelled  over  a  great  part 
of  Ireland,  collecting  information  on  the  traditions, 
topography,  and  antiquities  of  the  country.  The 
results  of  these  investigations  he  embodied  in  a 
series  of  letters,  which  are  now  deposited  in  the 
Royal  Irish  Academy,  bound  up  in  volumes  ;  and 
they  form  the  most  valuable  body  of  information 
on  Irish  topography  in  existence. 

His  usual  plan  was  to  seek  out  the  oldest  and 
most  intelligent  of  the  Irish-speaking  peasantry 
in  each  locality,  many  of  whom  are  named  in  his 
letters;  and  besides  numberless  other  inquiries, 
he  caused  them  to  pronounce  the  townland  and 
other  names,  and  used  their  assistance  in  inter- 
preting them.  His  interpretations  are  contained 
in  what  are  called  the  Field  Name  Books,  a  series 
of  several  thousand  small  parchment- covered 
volumes,  now  lying  tied  up  in  bundles  in  the 
Ordnance  Office,  Phoenix  Park.  The  names  of 
all  the  townlands,  towns,  and  parishes,  and  of 
every  important  physical  feature  in  Ireland,  are 
contained  in  these  books,  restored  to  their  ori- 
ginal Irish  forms,  and  translated  into  English, 
so  far  as  O'Donovan's  own  knowledge,  and  the 
information  he  received,  enabled  him  to  determine. 

There  are,  however,  numerous  localities  in  every 
one  of  the  thirty-two  counties  that  he  was  unable 
to  visit  personally,  and  in  these  cases,  instead  of 
himself  hei  ring  the  names  pronounced,  he  was 
obliged  to  content  himself  with  the  various  modes 
of  spelling  them  prevalent  in  the  neighbourhood, 
or  with  the  pronunciation  taken  down  by  others 
from  the  mouths  of  the  people,  as  nearly  as  they 
were  able  to  represent  it  by  English  letters.  He 
had  a  wonderful  instinct  in  arriving  at  the  mean- 
ings of  names,  but  the  information  he  received 

8  The  Irish  Locat  Name  Syi  'em.      [PARTI. 

from  deputies  often  left  him  in  great  doubt,  which 
he  not  unfrequently  expresses  ;  and  his  interpre- 
tations, in  such  cases,  are  to  be  received  with 
caution,  based,  as  they  often  are,  on  corrupt  spell- 
ing, or  on  doubtful  information. 

So  far  as  time  permitted,  I  have  consulted 
O'Donovan's  letters,  and  the  Field  Name  Books, 
and  I  have  made  full  use  of  the  information  de- 
rived from  these  sources.  I  have  had  frequently 
to  use  my  own  judgment  in  correcting  what  other 
and  older  authorities  proved  to  be  erroneous ;  but 
I  do  not  wish,  by  this  remark,  to  underrate  the 
value  and  extent  of  the  information  I  have  re- 
ceived from  O'Donovan's  manuscript  writings. 

I  will  give  a  few  illustrations  of  names  re- 
covered in  this  way.  There  is  a  townland  in 
Cavan  called  Castleterra,  which  gives  name  to  a 
parish ;  the  proper  pronunciation,  as  O'Donovan 
found  by  conversation  with  the  people,  is  Cussa- 
tirry,  representing  the  Irish  Cos-a'-tsiwraigh,  the 
foot  of  the  colt,  which  has  been  so  strangely  cor- 
rupted ;  they  accounted  for  the  name  by  a  legend, 
and  they  showed  him  a  stone  in  the  townland  on 
which  was  the  impression  of  a  colt's  foot. 

In  the  parish  of  Kilmore,  in  the  same  county, 
the  townland  of  Derrywinny  was  called  by  an  in- 
telligent old  man,  Doire-bhainne,  and  interpreted, 
both  by  him  and  O'Donovan,  the  oak- grove  of  the 
milk ;  so  called,  very  probably,  from  a  grove 
where  cows  used  to  be  milked.  Farnamurry  near 
Nenagh  in  Tipperary,  was  pronounced  Farrany- 
murry,  showing  that  the  name  is  much  shortened, 
and  really  signifies  O'Murray's  land  ;  and  Bally- 
hoos  in  Clonfert,  Galway,  was  stripped  of  its  de- 
ceptive garb  by  being  called  Bile-chuais,  the  old 
tree  of  the  coos  or  cave. 

IV.  We  have  a  vast  quantity  of  topographical 

CHAP,  i.]  How  Meanings  have  been  ascertained.       9 

and  other  literature,  written  from  a  very  early 
period  down  to  the  17th  century,  in  the  Irish  lan- 
guage, by  native  writers.  Much  of  this  has  been 
lately  published  and  translated,  but  far  the  greater 
part  remains  still  unpublished. 

Generally  speaking,  the  writers  of  these  manu- 
scripts were  singularly  careful  to  transmit  the 
correct  ancient  forms  of  such  names  of  places  as 
they  had  occasion  to  mention  ;  and  accordingly  it 
may  be  stated  as  a  rule,  subject  to  occasional  ex- 
ceptions, that  the  same  names  are  always  found 
spelled  in  the  same  way  by  all  our  ancient  writers, 
or  with  trifling  differences  depending  on  the  period 
in  which  they  were  transcribed,  and  not  affecting 
the  etymology. 

At  those  early  times,  the  names  which  are  now 
for  the  most  part  unmeaning  sounds  to  the  people 
using  them,  were  quite  intelligible,  especially  to 
skilled  Irish  scholars ;  and  this  accounts  for  the 
almost  universal  correctness  with  which  they 
have  been  transmitted  to  us. 

This  is  one  of  the  most  valuable  of  all  sources  of 
information  to  a  student  of  Irish  local  names,  and 
it  is,  of  course,  of  higher  authority  than  those  I 
have  already  enumerated  :  with  the  ancient  forms 
restored,  it  usually  requires  only  a  competent 
knowledge  of  the  Irish  language  to  understand 
and  interpret  them.  I  have  consulted  all  the 
published  volumes,  and  also  several  of  the  unpub- 
lished manuscripts  in  Trinity  College  and  the 
Royal  Irish  Academy.  Great  numbers  of  the 
names  occurring  in  the  texts  have  been  translated 
in  footnotes  by  the  editors  of  the  various  pub- 
lished manuscripts,  and  I  have  generally  availed 
myself  of  their  authority.  A  list  of  the  principal 
works  already  published  will  be  found  in  the 

10  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.      [PART  I. 

Many  of  the  local  names  occurring  in  these 
manuscripts  are  extinct,  but  the  greater  number 
exist  at  the  present  day,  though  disguised  in  an 
English  dress,  and  often  very  much  altered.  In 
every  such  case  it  becomes  a  question  to  identify 
the  ancient  with  the  modern  name — to  show  that 
the  latter  is  only  a  different  form  of  the  former, 
and  that  they  both  apply  to  the  same  place.  A 
great  deal  has  been  done  in  this  direction  by  Dr. 
O 'Donovan,  Dr.  Reeves,  and  other  editors  of  the 
published  manuscripts,  and  I  have  generally 
adopted  their  identifications. 

This  method  of  investigation  will  be  understood 
from  the  following  examples  : — At  the  year  586, 
it  is  stated  by  the  Four  Masters  that  Bran  Dubh, 
King  of  Leinster,  gained  a  battle  over  the  Hy 
Neill  "  at  the  hill  over  Cluain-Conaire  ;"  and  they 
also  record,  at  the  year  837,  that  a  great  royal 
meeting  took  place  there,  between  Niall  Caille, 
king  of  Ireland,  and  Felimy  (son  of  Criffan), 
king  of  Munster.  In  a  gloss  to  the  Calendar  of 
Aengus  the  Culdee,  at  the  16th  of  September, 
Cluain-Conaire  is  stated  to  be  "in  the  north  of 
Hy  Faelain;"  and  this  clearly  identifies  it  with 
the  modern  townland  of  Cloncurry,  which  gives 
name  to  a  parish  in  Kildare,  between  Kilcock  and 
Innfield,  since  we  know  that  Hy  Faelain  was  a 
territory  occupying  the  north  of  that  county.  As 
a  further  corroboration  of  this,  the  old  translator 
of  the  Annals  of  Ulster,  in  rendering  the  record  of 
the  meeting  in  837,  makes  the  name  Cloncurry. 

Once  we  have  arrived  at  the  form  Cluain-  Conaire, 
the  meaning  is  sufficiently  obvious ;  it  signifies 
Conary's  lawn  or  meadow ;  but  who  this  Conary 
was  we  have  no  means  of  knowing  (see  O'Dono- 
van's  Four  Masters,  Vol.  I.,  p.  457). 

Ballymagowan  is  the  name  of  some  townlands 

CHAP,  i.]  How  Meanings  have  been  ascertained.     11 

in  Donegal  and  Tyrone,  and  signifies  Mac  Gowan's 
town.  But  Ballymagowan  near  Derry  is  a  very 
different  name,  as  will  appear  by  reference  to  some 
old  authorities.  In  Sampson's  map  it  is  called 
Ballygowan,  and  in  the  Act  4  Anne,  "  Ballygan, 
alias  Ballygowan  :"  while  in  an  Inquisition  taken 
at  Derry,  in  1605,  it  is  designated  by  the  English 
name  Canons'  land.  From  all  this  it  is  obviously 
the  place  mentioned  in  the  following  record  in 
the  Four  Masters  at  1537: — "The  son  of 
O'Doherty  was  slain  in  a  nocturnal  assault  by 
Rury,  son  of  Felim  O'Doherty,  at  Baile-na- 
gcananach  [Ballynagananagh],  in  the  Termon  of 
Derry."  This  old  Irish  name  signifies  the  town 
of  the  canons,  a  meaning  preserved  in  the  Inq. 
of  1605 ;  while  the  intermediate  forms  between 
the  ancient  and  the  modern  very  corrupt  name 
are  given  in  Sampson  and  in  the  Act  of  Anne. 

In  Adamnan's  Life  of  St.  Columba  (Lib.  ii., 
Cap.  43)  it  is  related,  that  on  one  occasion,  while 
the  saint  was  in  Ireland,  he  undertook  a  journey, 
in  which  "  he  had  for  his  charioteer  Columbanus, 
son  of  Echuid,  a  holy  man,  and  founder  of  a  mo- 
nastery, called  in  the  Scotic  tongue  Snamh-Luthir." 
In  the  Life  of  St.  Fechin,  published  by  Colgan 
(Act.  SS.,  p.  136  b.),  we  are  informed  that  "  the 
place  which  is  called  Snamh-Luthir  is  in  the  re- 
gion of  Cairbre-Gabhra ;"  and  O'Donovan  has 
shown  that  Carbery-Goura  was  a  territory  situ- 
ated in  the  north-east  of  Longford ;  but  the  pre 
sent  identification  renders  it  evident  that  it 
extended  northwards  into  Cavan. 

In  an  Inquisition  taken  at  Cavan  in  1609,  the 
following  places  are  mentioned  as  situated  in  the 
barony  of  Loughtee: — "Trinitie  Island  scituate 
near  the  Toagher,  .  .  .  Clanlaskin,  Derry, 
Bleyncupp,  and  Dromore,  Snawlugher  and  Kille- 

Ix?  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.      [PART  i. 

vallie"  (Ulster  Inq.,  App.  vii.)  ;  Snawlugher 
being  evidently  the  ancient  Snamh-Luthir.  We 
find  these  names  existing  at  the  present  day  in  the 
parish  of  Kilmore,  in  this  barony,  near  the  town 
of  Cavan,  in  the  modern  forms  of  Togher,  Clon- 
loskan,  Derries,  Bleancup,  Drutnmore,  Killyvally, 
Trinity  Island ;  and  there  is  another  modern 
townland  called  Slanore,  which,  though  more  al- 
tered than  the  others,  is  certainly  the  same  as 
Snawlugher.  If  this  required  further  proof  we 
have  it  in  the  fact,  that  in  Petty's  map  Slanore  19 
called  Snalore,  which  gives  the  intermediate  step. 

Snamh-Luthir  is  very  well  represented  in  pro- 
nunciation by  Snawlugher  of  the  Inquisition. 
This  was  shortened  by  Petty  to  Snalore  without 
much  sacrifice  of  sound ;  and  this,  by  a  metathesis 
common  in  Irish  names,  was  altered  to  Slanore. 
Luthir  is  a  man's  name  of  frequent  occurrence  in 
our  old  MSS.,  and  Snamh-Luthir  signifies  the 
swimming- ford  of  Luthir.  This  ingenious  iden- 
tification is  due  to  Dr.  Reeves.  (See  Reeves's 
Adamnan,  p.  173). 

V.  Some  of  the  early  ecclesiastical  and  histo- 
rical writers,  who  used  the  Latin  Language,  very 
often  when  they  had  occasion  to  mention  places, 
gave,  instead  of  the  native  name,  the  Latin  equiva- 
lent, or  they  gave  the  Irish  name  accompanied  by 
a  Latin  translation.  Instances  of  this  kind  are  to 
be  found  in  the  pages  of  Adamnan,  Bede,  Gir- 
aldus  Cambrensis,  Colgan,  O'Sullivan  Bear,  and 
others.  Of  all  the  sources  of  information  ac- 
cessible to  me,  this,  so  far  as  it  extends,  is  the 
most  authentic  and  satisfactory ;  and  accordingly 
I  have  collected  and  recorded  every  example  of 
importance  that  I  could  find. 

These  men,  besides  being,  many  of  them,  pro- 
foundly skilled  in  the  Irish  language,  and  speaking 

CHAP,  i.]  How  Meanings  have  been  ascertained.     13 

it  as  their  mother  tongue,  lived  at  a  time  when  the 
local  names  of  the  country  were  well  understood  ; 
their  interpretations  are  in  almost  all  cases  beyond 
dispute,  and  serve  as  a  guide  to  students  of  the  pre- 
sent day,  not  only  in  the  very  names  they  have 
translated,  but  in  many  others  of  similar  structure, 
or  formed  from  the  same  roots.  How  far  this  is 
the  case  will  appear  from  the  following  examples. 

St.  Columba  erected  a  monastery  at  Durrow,  in 
the  King's  County,  about  the  year  509,  and  it  con- 
tinued afterwards  during  his  whole  life  one  of  his 
favourite  places.  The  old  Irish  form  of  the  name 
is  Dairmag  or  Dearmagh,  as  we  find  it  in  Adam- 
nan  : — "  A  monastery,  which  in  Scotic  is  called 
Dairmag ;"  and  for  its  interpretation  we  have  also 
his  authority  ;  for  when  he  mentions  it  in  lab.  i., 
Cap.  29,  he  uses  the  Latin  equivalent,  calling  it 
"  Roboreti  campus,"  the  plain  of  the  oaks.  Bede 
also  gives  both  the  Irish  name  and  the  translation 
in  the  following  passage : — "  Before  he  (Columba) 
passed  over  into  Britain,  he  had  built  a  noble 
monastery  in  Ireland,  which,  from  the  great  numbei 
of  oaks,  is  in  the  Scotic  language  called  Dearmagh, 
the  field  of  the  oaks"  (Lib.  iii.,  Cap.  4).  Dair,  an 
oak  ;  magh,  a  plain. 

It  is  hardly  necessary  to  remark  that  the  name 
was  in  use  ages  before  the  time  of  St.  Columba, 
who  adopted  it  as  he  found  it ;  and  it  has  been 
softened  down  to  the  present  name  by  the  aspira- 
tion of  the  consonants,  Dearmhagh  being  pro- 
nounced Darwah,  which  gradually  sunk  to 

Durrov  on  the  borders  of  the  Queen's  County 
and  Kilkenny,  has  the  same  original  form  and 
meaning,  for  we  find  it  so  called  in  O'Clery's 
Calendar  at  the  20th  of  October,  where  St.  Mael- 
dubh  is  mentioned  as  "  from  Dermagh  iL  HyDuach, 

14         The  Irish  Local  Name  System.         [PART  I. 

in  the  north  of  Ossory,"  which  passage  also  shows 
that  Durrow,  though  now  included  in  the  Queen's 
County,  formerly  belonged  to  the  territory  of 
Idough,  in  Kilkenny. 

There  are  several  townlands  in  other  parts  of 
Ireland  called  Durrow,  Durra,  and  Durha ;  and 
although  we  have  no  written  evidence  of  their 
ancient  forms,  yet,  aided  by  the  pronunciation  of 
the  peasantry,  and  guided  by  the  analogy  of  Dur- 
row, we  cannot  hesitate  to  pronounce  that  they  are 
all  modern  forms  of  Dearmhagh. 

We  find  the  same  term  forming  part  of  the  name 
of  Dunderrow,  a  village  and  parish  in  Cork,  whose 
ancient  name  is  preserved  in  the  following  entry 
from  the  Book  of  Leinster,  a  MS.  of  the  12th  cen- 
tury, recording  an  event  that  occurred  early  in  the 
ninth : — "  By  them  (i.  e.  the  Danes)  were  demol- 
ished Dun-der-maigi  and  Inis-Eoganain'  (Owenan's 
or  Little  Owen's  island  or  river-holm,  now  Ini- 
shannon  on  the  river  Bandon :  "  "Wars  of  GGr.,"  p. 
233).  Dunderrow  signifies  the  fortress  of  the  oak- 
plain,  and  the  large  dun  from  which  it  was  called 
is  still  in  existence  in  the  townland  of  Dunderrow, 
half  a  mile  south  of  the  village. 

Drumhome  in  Donegal  takes  its  name  from  an 
ancient  church  originally  dedicated  to  St.  Adam- 
nan  (see  O'Clery's  Calendar  at  23rd  Sept).  O'Clery 
and  the  Four  Masters  call  it  Druim-tuama,  which 
seems  to  imply  that  they  took  it  to  mean  the  ridge 
of  the  tumulus.  Adamnan  himself,  however,  men- 
tions it  in  his  life  of  St.  Columba  (Lib.  iii.  Cap. 
23)  by  the  equivalent  Latin  name  Dorsum  Tommce  ; 
and  Colgan  (A.  SS.  p.  9,  n.  6)  notices  this,  adding 
the  words,  "  for  the  Irish  druim  signifies  the  same 
as  the  Latin  dorsum."  From  which  it  appears 
evident  that  both  Adamnan  and  Colgan  regarded 
Tommae  as  a  personal  name ;  for  if  it  meant  tumulus, 

CHAP,  i.]  HDIC  Meanings  have  been  ascertained.      15 

the  former  would,  no  doubt,  have  translated  it  as 
he  did  the  first  part,  and  the  latter  would  be  pretty 
sure  to  have  a  remark  on  it.  The  name,  therefore, 
signifies  the  ridge  or  long  hill  of  Tomma,  a  pagan 
woman's  name ;  and  this  is  the  sense  in  which 
Lynch,  the  author  of  Cambrensis  Eversus,  under- 
stands it  (Camb.  Evers.  II.  686). 

About  four  miles  from  Bantry,  on  the  road  to 
Inchigeela,  are  the  ruins  of  Carriganass  castle, 
once  a  stronghold  of  the  O'Sullivans.  O'Sullivan 
Bear  mentions  it  in  his  History  of  the  Irish 
Catholics,  and  calls  it  Torrentirupcs,  which  is  ai 
exact  translation  of  the  Irish  name  Carraig-an-easa, 
the  rock  of  the  cataract ;  and  it  takes  its  name 
from  a  beautiful  cascade,  where  the  Ouvane  falls 
over  a  ledge  of  rocks,  near  the  castle. 

There  is  another  place  of  the  same  name  in  the 
parish  of  Ardagh,  near  Youghal,  and  another  still 
in  the  parish  of  Lackan,  Mayo  ;  while,  in  Armagh 
and  in  Tyrone,  it  takes  the  form  of  Carrickaness — 
all  deriving  their  name  from  a  rock  in  the  bed  of 
a  stream,  forming  an  eas  or  waterfall. 

VI.  When  the  Irish  original  of  a  name  is  not 
known,  it  may  often  be  discovered  from  an  old  form 
of  the  anglicised  name.  These  early  English  forms 
are  found  in  old  documents  of  various  kinds  in  the 
English  or  Latin  language — inquisitions,  maps, 
charters,  rolls,  leases,  &c.,  as  well  as  in  the  pages 
of  the  early  Anglo-Irish  historical  writers.  The 
names  found  in  these  documents  have  been  em- 
balmed in  their  pages,  and  preserved  from  that 
continual  process  of  corruption  to  which  modern 
names  have  been  subjected  ;  such  as  they  sprang 
from  their  Irish  source  they  have  remained,  while 
many  of  the  corresponding  modern  names  have 
been  altered  in  various  ways. 

They  were  obviously,  in  many  instances,  taken 

16  The  Irish  Local  Name  Si/xtem.        [PAKT  i. 

down  from  the  native  pronunciation;  and  very 
often  they  transmit  the  original  sound  sufficiently 
near  to  suggest  at  once  to  an  Irish  scholar,  prac- 
tised in  these  matters,  the  proper  Irish  form.  Drs. 
O'Donovan  and  Reeves  have  made  much  use  ol 
this  method,  and  I  have  succeeded,  by  means  of  it, 
in  recovering  the  Irish  forms  of  many  names. 

Ballybough,  the  name  of  a  village  near  Dublin, 
is  obscure  as  it  stands ;  but  in  an  Inquisition  of 
James  I.,  it  is  called  Ballybought,  which  at  once 
suggests  the  true  Irish  name  Baile-bocht,  poor 
town ;  and  Ballybought,  the  correct  anglicised 
form,  is  the  name  of  some  townlands  in  A.ntrim, 
Kildare,  Cork,  and  Wexford.  With  the  article 
intervening  we  have  Ballinamought,  the  name  of 
a  hamlet  near  Cork  city,  and  Ballynamought  near 
Bantry  in  the  same  county,  both  meaning  the  town 
of  the  poor  people : — b  eclipsed  by  m — page  22. 

Cappancur  near  Geashill,  King's  County,  is 
mentioned  in  an  Inquisition  of  James  I.,  and 
spelled  Keapancurragh,  which  very  fairly  represents 
the  pronunciation  of  the  Irish  Ceapach-an-chur- 
raigh,  the  tillage-plot  of  the  currayh  or  marsh. 

There  is  a  townland  in  the  parish  of  Aghaboe, 
Queen's  County,  the  name  of  which  all  modern  au- 
thorities concur  in  calling  Kilminfoyle.  It  is  cer- 
tain, however,  that  the  n  in  the  middle  syllable 
has  been  substituted  for  /,  for  it  is  spelled  in  the 
Down  Survey  map  Killmullf oyle :  this  makes  it 
perfectly  clear,  for  it  is  a  very  good  attempt  to 
write  the  Irish  Cill-Maolphoil,  Mulfoyle's  Church, 
Mulfoyle  being  a  man's  name  of  common  occur- 
rence, signifying  St.  Paul's  servant. 

It  would  be  impossible  to  guess  at  the  meaning 
of  Ballyboughlin,  the  name  of  a  place  near  Clara, 
King's  County,  as  it  now  stands ;  but  here  also 
the  Down  Survey  opens  the  way  to  the  original 

CHAP.  ii. J  Systematic  Changes.  17 

name,  by  spelling  it  Bealaboclone,  from  which  it  is 
obvious  that  the  Irish  name  is  Beal-atha-bochluana^ 
the  ford  of  the  cow-meadow,  the  last  part,  bochluain, 
cow-meadow,  being  a  very  usual  local  designation. 



E  are  many  interesting  peculiarities  in  the 
process  of  altering  Irish  topographical  names  from 
ancient  to  modern  English  forms ;  and  the  changes 
and  corruptions  they  have  undergone  are,  in  nu 
merous  instances,  the  result  of  phonetic  laws  that 
have  been  in  operation  from  the  earliest  times,  and 
among  different  races  of  people.  Irish  names, 
moreover,  afford  the  only  existing  record  of  the 
changes  that  Irish  words  undergo  in  the  mouths  of 
English-speaking  people;  and,  for  these  reasons, 
the  subject  appears  to  me  to  possess  some  import- 
ance, in  both  an  antiquarian  and  a  philological 
point  of  view. 

I.  Irish  Pronunciation  preserved. — In  anglicising 
Irish  names,  the  leading  general  rule  is,  that  the 
present  forms  are  derived  from  the  ancient  Irish, 
as  they  were  spoken,  not  as  they  were  written. 
Those  who  first  committed  them  to  writing  aimed 
at  preserving  the  original  pronunciation,  by  re- 
presenting it  as  nearly  as  they  were  able  in  Eng- 
lish letters.  Generally  speaking,  this  principle 
explains  the  alterations  that  were  made  in  the  spell- 
ing of  names  in  the  process  of  reducing  them 
from  ancient  to  modern  forms ;  and,  as  in  the  Irish 
VOL.  i.  3 

18  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [PART  i. 

language  there  is  much  elision  and  softening  oi 
consonants;  as,  consequently,  the  same  sound 
usually  take  a  greater  number  of  letters  to  repre- 
sent them  in  Irish  than  in  English ;  and  since,  in 
addition  to  this,  many  of  the  delicate  sounds  of  the 
Irish  words  were  wholly  omitted,  as  impossible  tc 
be  represented  in  English ;  for  all  these  reasons 
the  modern  English  forms  of  the  names  are  almost 
always  shorter  than  the  ancient  Irish. 

Allowing  for  the  difficulty  of  representing  Irish 
words  by  English  letters,  it  will  be  found  that,  on 
the  whole,  the  ancient  pronunciation  is  fairly  pre- 
served. For  example,  Drummuck,  the  name  of 
several  places  in  Ulster,  preserves  almost  exactly 
the  sound  of  the  Irish  Druim-muc,  the  ridge  of  the 
pigs  ;  and  the  same  may  be  said  of  Dungarvan,  in 
Waterford  and  Kilkenny,  the  Irish  form  of  which 
is  Dun-Garbhain  (Four  Mast.),  meaning  Garvan's 
fortress.  Not  quite  so  well  preserved,  but  still 
tolerably  so,  is  the  sound  of  Baile-d -riclire  [Bally- 
ariddery],  the  town  of  the  knight,  which  is  now 
called  Balrothery,  near  Dublin.  In  some  excep- 
tional cases  the  attempts  to  represent  the  sound 
were  very  unsuccessful,  of  which  Ballyagran,  the 
name  of  a  village  in  Limerick,  may  be  cited  as  an 
example ;  it  ought  to  have  been  anglicised  Bellaha- 
gran,  the  original  form  being  Bel-atha-grean,  the 
ford-mouth  of  the  gravel.  Cases  of  this  kind 
are  more  common  in  Ulster  and  Leinster  than  in 
the  other  provinces. 

Whenever  it  so  happens  that  the  original  com- 
bination of  letters  is  pronounced  nearly  the  same  in 
Irish  and  English,  the  names  are  commonly 
modernised  without  much  alteration  either  of  spel- 
ling or  pronunciation  ;  as  for  instance,  dun,  a  fort, 
is  usually  anglicised  dun  or  doon;  bo,  a  cow,  bo ; 
iruim,  a  long  hill,  drum;  leitir,  a  wet  hill- side, 

CHAP,  it.]  Systematic  Changes.  19 

letter,  &c.  In  most  cases,  however,  the  same  letters 
do  not  represent  the  same  sounds  in  the  two  lan- 
guages ;  and,  accordingly,  while  the  pronunciation 
was  preserved,  the  original  orthography  was  in 
almost  all  cases  much  altered,  and,  as  I  have  said, 
generally  shortened.  The  contraction  in  the  spell- 
ing is  sometimes  very  striking,  of  which  Lorum  in 
Carlow  affords  a  good  illustration,  the  Irish  name 
being  Leamhdhruim  [Lavrum],  the  drum  or  ridge 
of  the  elms. 

II.  Aspiration. — The  most  common  causes  of 
change  in  the  reduction  of  Irish  names  are  aspi- 
ration and  eclipsis ;  and  of  the  effects  of  these 
two  grammatical  accidents,  it  will  be  necessary  to 
give  some  explanation. 

0 'Donovan  defines  aspiration — "  The  changing 
of  the  radical  sounds  of  the  consonants,  from  being 
stops  of  the  breath  to  a  sibilance,  or  from  a 
stronger  to  a  weaker  sibilance ;  so  that  the  aspira- 
tion of  a  consonant  results  in  a  change  of  sound." 
There  are  nine  of  the  consonants  which,  in  certain 
situations,  may  be  aspirated :  b,  c,  d,  f,  g,  m,  p,  s, 
and  t.  The  aspiration  is  denoted  either  by  placing 
a  point  over  the  letter  (cj,  or  an  h  after  it  (ch)  ; 
by  this  contrivance  letters  that  are  aspirated  are 
still  retained  in  writing,  though  their  sounds  are 
wholly  altered.  But  as  in  anglicising  names  these 
aspirated  sounds  were  expressed  in  English  by 
the  very  letters  that  represented  them,  there  was, 
of  course,  a  change  of  letters. 

B  and  m  aspirated  (bh,  mh\  are  both  sounded 
like  v  or  w,  and,  consequently,  where  we  find  bh  or 
mh  in  an  Irish  name,  we  generally  have  v  or  w  in 
the  English  form  :  examples,  Ardvally  in  Sligo  and 
Donegal,  from  the  Irish  Ard-bhaik,  high  town ; 
Ballinvana  in  Limerick,  Baik-an-bhana,  the  town 
of  the  green  field;  Ballinwully  in  Roscommon, 
Baile-an-mhullaigh,  the  town  of  the  summit. 

20  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [PART  i. 

Very  often  they  are  represented  by  /  in  Eng- 
lish, as  we  see  in  Cloondaff  in  Mayo,  from  Cluain- 
damh,  ox-meadow  ;  Boherduff,  the  name  of  several 
townlands  in  various  counties,  Bdthar-dubh,  black 
road.  And  not  unfrequently  they  are  altogether 
suppressed,  especially  in  the  end  of  words,  or 
between  two  vowels,  as  in  Knockdoo  in  Wicklow, 
the  same  as  Kuockduff  in  other  places,  Cnoc-dubh, 
black  hill ;  Knockrour  or  Knockrower  in  the 
southern  counties,  which  has  been  made  Knock- 
ramer,  in  Armagh,  all  from  Cnoc-reamhar,  fat  or 
thick  hill. 

For  c  aspirated  see  next  Chapter. 

D  and  <7  aspirated  (dk,  gh],  have  a  faint  guttural 
sound  not  existing  in  English ;  it  is  something 
like  the  sound  of  y  (in  yore),  which  occasionally 
represents  it  in  modern  names,  as  in  Annayalla  in 
Monaghan,  Eanaigh-gheala,  the  white  marshes,  so 
called,  probably,  from  whitish  grass  or  white  bog 
flowers.  But  these  letters,  which  even  in  Irish 
are,  in  some  situations  not  sounded,  are  generally 
altogether  unrepresented  in  English  names,  as  in 
Lisnalee,  a  common  local  name  in  different  parts 
of  the  country,  which  represents  the  Irish  Lios- 
na-laegh,  the  fort  of  the  calves,  a  name  having  its 
origin  in  the  custom  of  penning  calves  at  night 
within  the  enclosure  of  the  lis  ;  Reanabrone  near 
Limerick  city,  Reidh-na-bron,  the  marshy  flat  of 
the  mill-stone  or  quern  ;  Ballintoy  in  Antrim, 
Baile-an-tuaidh,  the  town  of  the  north. 

F  aspirated  (fh)  totally  loses  its  sound  in  Irish, 
and  of  course  is  omitted  in  English,  as  in  Bauran- 
eag  in  Limerick,  Barr-an-fhiaigh,  the  hill-top  of 
the  deer;  Knockanree  in  Wicklow,  Cnoc-an- 
fhraeigh,  the  hill  of  the  heath. 

P  aspirated  (ph],  is  represented  by  /,  as  in 
Ballinfoyle,  the  name  of  a  place  in  "Wicklow,  and 

CHAP.  ii. J          Systematic  Changes.  21 

of  another  near  Galway,  Baile-an-phoill,  the  town 
of  the  hole;  Shanlongford  in  Deny,  Sean-longphort, 
the  old  longfort  or  fortification. 

-S  and  t  aspirated  (sA,  th),  both  sound  the  same 
as  English  h,  as  in  Drumhillagh,  a  townland  name 
of  frequent  occurrence  in  some  of  the  Ulster 
counties,  Druim-shaileach,  the  ridge  of  the  sallows, 
which  often  also  takes  the  formDrumsillagh,  where 
the  original  «  sound  is  retained;  Drumhuskert 
in  Mayo,  Druimthuaisceart,  northern  drum  or  ridge. 

III.  Eclipsis. — O'Donovan  defines  eclipsis, 
"  The  suppression  of  the  sounds  of  certain  radical 
consonants  by  prefixing  others  of  the  same  organ." 
When  one  letter  is  eclipsed  by  another,  both  are 
retained  in  writing,  but  the  sound  of  the  eclipsing 
letter  only  is  heard,  that  of  the  eclipsed  letter, 
which  is  the  letter  proper  to  the  word,  being 
suppressed.  For  instance,  when  d  is  eclipsed  by 
n  it  is  written  n-d,  but  the  n  alone  is  pronounced. 
In  representing  names  by  English  letters,  however, 
the  sound  only  was  transmitted,  and,  consequently 
the  eclipsed  letter  was  wholly  omitted  in  writing, 
which,  as  in  case  of  aspiration,  resulted  in  a 
change  of  letter. 

"All  initial  consonants  that  admit  of  eclipsis 
are  eclipsed  in  all  nouns  in  the  genitive  case 
plural,  when  the  article  is  expressed,  and  some- 
times even  in  the  absence  of  the  article  "  (O'Dono- 
van's  Grammar).  S  is  eclipsed  also,  under  similar 
circumstances,  in  the  genitive  singular.  Although 
there  are  several  other  conditions  under  which  con- 
sonants are  eclipsed,  this,  with  very  few  excep- 
tions, is  the  only  case  that  occurs  in  local  names. 

The  consonants  that  are  eclipsed  are  b,  c,  d,f, 
g,  p,  s,  t,  and  each  has  a  special  eclipsing  letter 
of  its  own. 

B  is  eclipsed  by  m.  Lugnamuddagh  near  Boyle, 

22  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [PART  i. 

Hoscommon,  represents  the  Irish  Lug-na-mbodach, 
the  hollow  of  the  bodaghs  or  churls ;  Knocknamoe 
near  Abbeyleix,  Queen's  County,  Cnoc-na-mbo, 
the  hill  of  the  cows ;  Mullaghnamoyagh  in  Derry, 
Mullach-na-mboitheach,  the  hill  of  the  byres,  or 

C  is  eclipsed  by  g.  Knocknagulliagh,  Antrim, 
is  reduced  from  the  Irish  Cnoe-na-gcoilleach,  the 
hill  of  the  cocks  or  grouse ;  Cloonagashel  near 
Ballinrobe,  ought  to  have  been  anglicised  Coolna- 
gashel,  for  the  Four  Masters  write  the  name  Cuil- 
na-(jcaiseal,  the  angle  of  the  cashels  or  stone  forts. 

7)  and  g  are  both  eclipsed  by  n.  Killynamph, 
in  the  parish  of  Aghalurcher,  Fermanagh,  Coitt- 
na-ndamh,  the  wood  of  the  oxen  ;  Mullananallog  in 
Monaghan,  Mu^ach-na-ndealg,  the  summit  of  the 
thorns  or  thorn-bushes.  The  eclipsis  of  g  very 
seldom  causes  a  change,  for  in  this  case  the  n  and 
g  coalesce  in  sound  in  the  Irish,  and  the  g  is 
commonly  retained  and  the  n  rejected  in  the 
English  forms ;  as,  for  instance,  Cnoc-na-ngabhar 
[Knock-nung-our],  the  hill  of  the  goats,  is  angli- 
cised Knocknagore  in  Sligo  and  Down,  and  Knock- 
nagower  in  Kerry. 

F  is  eclipsed  by  bh  which  is  represented  by  v 
in  English.  Carrignavar,  one  of  the  seats  of  the 
Mac  Carthys  in  Cork,  is  in  Irish  Carraig-na-bhfear, 
the  rock  of  the  men  ;  Altnaveagh  in  Tyrone  and 
Armagh,  Alt-na-bhfiach,  the  cliff  of  the  ravens; 
Lisnaviddoge  near  Templemore,  Tipperary,  Lios- 
na-bhfeadog,  the  lis  or  fort  of  the  plovers. 

P  is  eclipsed  by  b.  Gortnaboul  in  Kerry  and 
Clare,  Gort-na-bpoll>  the  field  of  the  holes :  Cor- 
nabaste  in  Cavan,  Cor-na-bpiast,  the  round-hill  of 
the  worms  or  enchanted  serpents. 

8  is  eclipsed  by  t,  but  this  occurs  only  in  the 
genitive  singular,  with  the  article,  and  sometimes 

CHAP.  ii. j         Systematic  Changes.  23 

without  it.  Ballintaggart,  the  name  of  several 
places  in  various  counties  from  Down  to  Kerry, 
represents  the  Irish  Baile-an-tsagairt,  the  town  of 
the  priest,  the  same  name  as  Ballysaggart,  which 
retains  the  s,  as  the  article  is  not  used ;  Knock- 
atancashlane  near  Caherconlish,  Limerick,  Cnoc- 
a'-tsean-chaisledin,  the  hill  of  the  old  castle  ;  Kil- 
tenanlea  in  Clare,  Cill-tSenain-leith,  the  church  of 
Senan  the  hoary ;  Kiltenan  in  Limerick,  Cill- 
tSenain,  Senan' s  church. 

T  is  eclipsed  by  d.  Ballynadolly  in  Antrim 
Baile-na-dtulach,  the  town  of  the  little  hills ;  Gort- 
nadullagh  near  Kenmare,  Gort-na-dtulach,  the 
field  of  the  hills ;  Lisnadurk  in  Fermanagh,  Lios- 
na-dtorc,  the  fort  of  the  boars. 

IY.  Effects  of  the  Article. — The  next  series  of 
changes  I  shall  notice  are  those  produced  under 
the  influence  of  the  article.  Names  were  occa- 
sionally formed  by  prefixing  the  Irish  definite 
article  an  to  nouns,  as  in  the  case  of  Anveyerg 
in  the  parish  of  Aghnamullan,  Monaghan,  which 
represents  thelrish  An-bheith-dkearg,ihe  red  birch- 
tree.  When  the  article  was  in  this  manner  placed 
before  a  word  beginning  with  a  vowel,  it  was 
frequently  contracted  to  n  alone,  and  this  n  was 
often  incorporated  with  its  noun,  losing  ultimately 
its  force  as  an  article,  and  forming  permanently  a 
part  of  the  word.  The  attraction  of  the  article  is 
common  in  other  languages  also,  as  for  instance 
in  French,  which  has  the  words  Ihierre,  lendemain, 
luette,  Lisle,  Lami,  and  many  others,  formed  by 
the  incorporation  of  the  article  /. 

A  considerable  number  of  Irish  names  have 
incorporated  the  article  in  this  manner ;  among 
others,  the  following :  Naul,  the  name  of  a  village 
near  Balbriggan.  The  Irish  name  is  an  dill,  i.  e.  the 
rock  or  cliff,  which  was  originally  applied  to  the 

24  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.    [PART.  i. 

perpendicular  rock  on  which  the  castle  stands — 
rising  over  the  little  river  Delvin  near  the  village. 
The  word  was  shortened  to  naill,  and  it  has  de- 
scended to  us  in  the  present  form  Naul,  which 
very  nearly  represents  the  pronunciation. 

The  parish  of  Neddans  in  Tipperary,  is  called 
in  Irish  na  feadain,  the  brooks  or  streamlets,  and 
it  took  its  name  from  a  townland  which  is  now 
often  called  Fearann-na-bhfeadan,  the  land  of  the 
streamlets.  Ninch  in  Meath,  the  inch  or  island. 
Naan  island  in  Lough  Erne,  the  ain  or  ring,  so 
called  from  its  shape;  Nart  in  Monaghan,  an 
fheart,  the  grave. 

Nuenna  river  in  the  parish  of  Freshford,  Kil- 
kenny— an  uaithne  [an  oohina],  the  green  river. 
The  river  Nore  is  properly  written  an  Fheoir,  i.  e. 
the  Feoir ;  Boate  calls  it  "  The  Nure  or  Oure," 
showing  that  in  his  time  (1645)  the  article  had 
not  been  permanently  incorporated.  Nobber  in 
Meath;  the  obair  or  work,  a  name  applied  ac- 
cording to  tradition,  to  the  English  fortress 
erected  there.  Mageognegan,  in  his  translation 
of  the  "  Annals  of  Clonmacnoise,"  calls  it  "  the 

It  is  curious  that  in  several  of  these  places  a 
traditional  remembrance  of  the  use  of  the  article 
still  exists,  for  the  people  often  employ  the 
English  article  with  the  names.  Thus  Naul  is 
still  always  called  "  The  Naul,"  by  the  inhabi- 
tants :  in  this  both  the  Irish  and  English  articles 
are  used  together ;  but  in  "  The  Oil  "  (the  aill  or 
rock),  a  townland  in  the  parish  of  Edermine, 
Wexford,  the  Irish  article  is  omitted,  and  the 
English  used  in  its  place. 

While  in  so  many  names  the  article  has  been 
incorporated,  the  reverse  process  sometimes  took 
place ;  that  is,  in  the  case  of  certain  words  which 

CHAP,  ii.]         Systematic  Changes. "  25 

properly  began  with  n,  this  letter  was  detached  in 
consequence  of  being  mistaken  for  the  article. 
The  name  tfacAow##/m7[Oohongwal],  is  an  example 
of  this.  The  word  Congbhail  means  a  habitation, 
but  it  was  very  often  applied  to  an  ecclesiastical 
establishment,  and  it  has  been  perpetuated  in  the 
names  of  Conwal,  a  parish  in  Donegal ;  Conwal  in 
the  parish  of  Rossinver,  Leitrim ;  Cunnagavale* 
in  the  parish  of  Tuogh,  Limerick ;  and  other  places. 
With  nua  (new)  prefixed,  it  became  Nuachong- 
bhail,  which  also  exists  in  several  parts  of  Ireland, 
in  the  forms  of  Noughaval  and  Nohoval.  This 
word  is  often  found  without  the  initial  n,  it  being 
supposed  that  the  proper  word  was  Uachongbhaii 
and  n  merely  the  article.  In  this  mutilated  state 
it  exists  in  the  modern  names  of  several  places,  viz. : 
Oughaval  in  the  parish  of  Kilmacteige,  Sligo  ;  the 
parish  of  Oughaval  in  Mayo  ;  and  Oughaval  in  the 
parish  of  Stradbally,  Queen's  County ;  which  last 
is  called  by  its  correct  name  Nuachongbhail,  in 
O'Clery's  Calendar  at  the  15th  May.  This  is  also 
the  original  name  of  Faughanvale  in  Derry,  which 
is  written  Uachongbhaii  by  the  Four  Masters.  This 

*  This  place  is  called  Cunnaghabhail  in  Irish  by  the  people, 
and  it  is  worthy  of  notice,  as  it  points  directly  to  what  appears 
to  be  the  true  origin  of  Congbhail,  viz.,  congabhaU.  1  am 
aware  that  in  O'Clery's  Glossary,  Congbhail  is  derived  from 
combhaile  (con  +  baile).  But  in  a  passage  in  the  "  Book  of 
Armagh,"  as  quoted  by  Dr.  W.  Stokes  in  his  Irish  Glosses,  I 
find  the  word  congabaim  used  in  the  sense  of  habito ;  and 
O'Donovan  states  that  congeb  =  he  holds  (Sup.  to  O'R.  Diet.). 
The  infinitive  or  verbal  noun  formation  is  congabail  or  con- 
gabhail,  which,  according  to  this  use,  means  habitatio;  and  as 
Colgan  translates  Congbhail  by  the  same  word  habitatio,  there 
can  be,  I  think,  no  doubt  that  congbhail  is  merely  a  contracted 
form  of  congabhaU.  CongabhaU  literally  means  conceptio,  i.e. 
comprehending  or  including ;  and  as  applied  to  a  habitation, 
would  mean  the  whole  of  the  premises  included  in  the  establish 

26  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [PART  i. 

old  name  was  corrupted  to  Faughanvale  by  peo- 
ple who,  I  suppose,  were  thinking  of  the  river 
Faughan  ;  which,  however,  is  three  miles  off,  and 
had  nothing  whatever  to  do  with  the  original  name 
of  the  place. 

The  word  Uachongbhail  has  a  respectable  anti- 
quity in  its  favour,  for  "The  Book  of  Uachong- 
bhail" is  mentioned  in  several  old  authorities,  among 
others  the  Book  of  Ballymote,  and  the  Yellow 
Book  of  Lecan  ;  the  name  occurs  also  in  the  Four 
Masters  at  1197.  Yet  there  can  be  no  doubt  that 
Nuachongbhail  is  the  original  word,  for  we  have 
the  express  authority  of  Colgan  that  nua  not  ua  is 
the  prefix,  as  he  translates  Nuachongbhail  by  nova 
liabitatio  ;  indeed  ua  as  a  prefix  could,  in  this  case, 
have  scarcely  any  meaning,  for  it  never  signifies 
anything  but  "  a  descendant." 

The  separation  of  the  n  may  be  witnessed  in 
operation  at  the  present  day  in  Kerry,  where  the 
parish  of  Nohoval  is  locally  called  in  Irish  some- 
times Uachobhail  and  sometimes  an  Uachobhail,  the 
n  being  actually  detached  and  turned  into  the 
article.  (See  O'Donovan's  Letter  on  this  parish.) 
That  the  letter  n  may  have  been  lost  in  this  man- 
aer  appears  also  to  be  the  opinion  of  Dr.  Graves, 
for  in  a  paper  read  before  the  R.  I.  Academy  in 
December,  1852,  he  remarks  that  the  loss  of  the 
initial  n  in  the  words  oidhche  (night)  and  uirnhir 
(a  number)  "  may  perhaps  be  accounted  for,  by 
supposing  that  it  was  confounded  with  the  n  of  the 

The  words  eascu  (or  easgan),  an  eel,  and  eas  (or 
easog),  a  weasel,  have,  in  like  manner,  lost  the 
initial  n,  for  the  old  forms,  as  given  in  Cormac's 
Glossary,  are  naiscu  and  ness.  Dr.  Whitley  Stokes, 
also,  in  his  recent  edition  of  this  Glossary,  directs 
attention  to  the  Breton  Ormandi  for  Normandy, 

CHAP,  ii.]  (Systematic  Changes.  27 

and  to  the  English  adder  as  compared  with  the 
Irish  nathir  (a  snake)  and  Lat.  natrix;  but  in  these 
two  last  examples  it  is  probahle  that  the  article 
has  nothing  to  do  with  the  loss  of  the  n. 

As  a  further  confirmation  of  this  opinion  regard- 
ing the  loss  of  n  in  Uachongbhail,  I  may  state  that 
the  letter  /  is  sometimes  lost  in  French  and  Italian 
words  from  the  very  same  cause ;  as  in  Fr.  once 
(Eng.  ounce,  an  animal),  from  Lat.  lynx;  it  was 
formerly  written  lonce,  and  in  the  It.  lonza,  the  /  is 
still  retained.  Fr.  azur  (Eng.  azure),  from  lazulus. 
So  also  It.  uscigmiolo,  the  nightingale,  from  Im- 
cinia ;  and  It.  orbacca,  a  berry,  from  laun-bacca. 

Even  in  English  there  are  some  cases  both  of 
the  loss  and  of  the  accession  of  the  article :  "an 
eft"  has  been  made  "  newt ;"  and  the  reverse  pro- 
cess is  seen  in  the  word  "  adder,"  which  has  been 
corrupted  from  "  nadder."  There  seems  a  ten- 
dency to  prefix  n  (whether  the  article  or  not),  as 
in  Nell  for  Ellen,  Ned  for  Edward,  &c.  At  one 
time  "  tother"  was  very  near  being  perpetuated  for 
''  the  other" — "  The  creature's  neither  one  nor 

Another  change  that  has  been,  perhaps,  chiefly 
produced  by  the  influence  of  the  article,  is  the 
omission  or  insertion  of  the  letter/.  The  article 
causes  the  initial  consonants  of  feminine  nouns 
(and  in  certain  cases  those  of  masculine  nouns 
also)  to  be  aspirated.  Now  aspirated  /  is  wholly 
silent ;  and  being  omitted  in  pronunciation,  it 
was,  in  the  same  circumstances,  often  omitted  in 
writing.  The  Irish  name  of  the  river  Nore  affords 
an  instance  of  this.  Keating  and  O'Heeren  write 
it  Feoir,  which  is  sounded  Eoir  when  the  article  is 
prefixed  (an  Fheoir).  Accordingly,  it  is  written 
without  the  /  quite  as  often  as  with  it ;  the  Four 
Masters  mention  it  three  times,  and  each  time 

28          The  Irish  Local  Name  System.        [PA-RT  i. 

they  call  it  Eoir.  The  total  silence  of  this  lettei 
in  aspiration  appears  to  be,  to  some  extent  at 
least,  the  cause  of  its  uncertain  character.  In  the 
case  of  many  words,  the  writers  of  Irish  seem 
either  to  have  inserted  or  omitted  it  indifferently, 
or  to  have  been  uncertain  whether  it  should  be 
inserted  or  not ;  and  so  we  often  find  it  omitted, 
even  in  very  old  authorities,  from  words  where  it 
was  really  radical,  and  prefixed  to  other  words  to 
which  it  did  not  belong.  The  insertion  of /is  very 
common  in  the  south  of  Ireland.  (See  O'Donovan's 
Gram.,  p.  30,  and  O'Brien's  Irish  Diet.,  p.  446.) 

The  following  words  will  exemplify  these 
remarks :  from  dill,  a  rock  or  cliff,  we  have  a  great 
number  of  names — such  as  Aillenaveagh  in  Gal- 
way,  Aill-na-bhfiach,  the  raven's  cliff,  &c.  But  it 
is  quite  as  often  called  faill,  especially  in  the 
south  ;  and  this  form  gives  us  many  names,  such 
as  Foilduff  in  Kerry  and  Tipperary,  black  cliff ; 
Foylatalure  in  Kilkenny,  the  tailor's  cliff.  Aill  I 
believe  to  be  the  most  ancient  form  of  this  word, 
for  Aill-finn  (Elphin)  occurs  in  the  Tripartite 
Life  of  St.  Patrick.  So  with  uar  and  fuar,  cold  ; 
and  Fahan  on  Lough  Swilly,  is  sometimes  written 
Fathain,  and  sometimes  Athain,  and  Othain,  by 
the  Four  Masters. 

The /has  been  omitted  by  aspiration  in  the 
names  Lughinny  in  the  parish  of  Killahy,  Kil- 
kenny, and  in  Lughanagh  in  the  parish  of 
Killosolan,  Galway,  both  of  which  represent  the 
Irish  an  fhliuchaine  [an  luhiny],  the  wet  land; 
and  also  in  Ahabeg,  in  the  parish  of  Carrigparson, 
Limerick,  anfhaithche  beag,  the  little  green.  In 
these  names,  the  article,  after  having  caused  the 
aspiration  of  the/,  has  itself  dropped  out ;  but  it 
has  held  its  place  in  Nurchossy  near  Clogher  in 
Tyrone,  the  Irish  name  of  which  is  an  fliuar- 

CHAP,  ii.]          Systematic  Changes.  29 

chosach,  the  cold  foot  or  cold  bottom-land,  $o  called 
probably  from  its  wetness.  A  place  of  this  name 
Fuarchosach)  is  mentioned  by  the  Four  Masters 
at  1584,  but  it  lies  in  Donegal :  there  is  a  little 
island  in  Lough  Corrib,  two  miles  and  a  half 
north-east  from  Oughterard,  with  the  strange 
name  of  Cussafoor,  which  literally  signifies  "  cold 
feet ;  "  and  Derreenagusfoor  is  the  name  of  a  town- 
land  in  the  parish  of  Kilcummin  in  Galway, 
signifying  the  little  oak-wood  of  the  cold  feet. 

The /has  been  affixed  to  the  following  words  to 
which  it  does  not  radically  belong :  fan  for  an,  stay ; 
fiolar  for  iolar,  an  eagle ;  fainne  for  ainne,  a  ring, 
&c.  It  has  also  been  inserted  in  Culfeightrin,  the 
name  of  a  parish  in  Antrim,  which  is  properly 
Cuil-eachtrann,  the  corner  or  angle  of  the  strangers. 
Urney  in  Tyrone  is  often  called  Furny,  as  in  the 
record  of  Primate  Colton's  Visitation  (1397),  and 
the  /  is  also  prefixed  in  the  Taxation  of  Down, 
Connor,  and  Dromore  (1306),  both  showing  that 
the  corruption  is  not  of  recent  origin. 

I  must  notice  yet  another  change  produced  by 
the  article.  When  it  is  prefixed  to  a  masculine 
noun  commencing  with  a  vowel,  a  t  should  be  in- 
serted between  it  and  the  noun,  as  anam,  soul,  an 
tanam,  the  soul.*  In  the  case  of  a  few  names,  this 
t  has  remained,  and  has  become  incorporated  with 
the  word,  while  the  article  has  disappeared.  For 
example,  Turagh  in  the  parish  of  Tuogh,  Limerick, 
i.  e.  an  t-iubhrach,  the  yew  land  ;  Tummery  in  the 
parish  of  Dromore,  Tyrone,  an  t-iomaire,  the  ridge ; 
so  also  Tassan  in  Monaghan,  the  assan  or  little 
cataract ,  Tardree  in  Antrim,  an  tard-fhraeigh,  the 
height  of  the  heather.  The  best  known  example 

*  This  t  is  really  a  part  of  the  article ;  but  the  way  in 
which  I  have  stated  the  case  will  be  more  familiar  to  readers 
of  modern  Irish. 

30  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.        [PART  i. 

of  this  is  Tempo  in  Fermanagh,  which  is  called  in 
Irish  an  t-Iompodh  deisiol  [antimpo  deshil],  iompodh 
meaning  turning,  and  deisiol,  dcxtrosum — from  left 
to  right.  The  place  received  its  name,  no  doubt, 
from  the  ancient  custom  of  turning  sun-ways,  i.  e. 
from  left  to  right  in  worship.  (See  deas,  in  2nd 
Volume. ) 

V.  Provincial  Differences  of  Pronunciation. — 
There  are  certain  Irish  words  and  classes  of  words, 
which  by  the  Irish-speaking  people  are  pro- 
nounced differently  in  different  parts  of  the 
country  ;  and,  in  accordance  with  the  general  rule 
to  preserve  as  nearly  as  possible  the  original  pro- 
nunciation, these  provincial  peculiarities,  as  might 
be  anticipated,  are  reflected  in  the  modern  names. 
This  principle  is  very  general,  and  large  numbers 
of  names  are  affected  by  it ;  but  I  shall  notice 
only  a  few  of  the  most  prominent  cases. 

In  the  southern  half  of  Ireland,  the  Irish  letters 
a  and  o  are  sounded  in  certain  situations  like  ou 
in  the  English  word  ounce*  Gabhar,  a  goat,  is 
pronounced  gowr  in  the  south,  and  gore  in  the 
north ;  and  so  the  name  Lios-na-ngabhar  (Four 
Mast. :  the  lis  or  fort  of  the  goats)  is  anglicised 
Lisnagower  in  Tipperary,  and  Lisnagore  in  Mo- 
naghan.  See  also  Ballynahown,  a  common  town- 
land  name  in  the  south  (Baik-na-habhann,  the 
town  of  the  river),  contrasts  with  Ballynahone, 
an  equally  common  name  in  the  north.  Fionn 
(white  or  fair),  is  pronounced  feoun  or  fiune  in 
Minister,  as  in  Bawnfoun  in  Waterford,  and 
Bawnfune  in  Cork,  the  white  or  fair-coloured 
field.  In  most  other  parts  of  Ireland  it  is  pro- 
nounced fin,  as  in  Findrum  in  Donegal  and 
Tyrone,  which  is  written  by  the  Four  Masters 

*  For  this  and  the  succeeding  provincial  peculiarities  see 
O'Donovan's  Grammar,  Part  I.,  Chaps,  i.  and  IL 

CHAP.  ii. J           Systematic  Changes.  31 

Findmim,  white  or  fair  ridge ;  and  this  form  is 
often  adopted  in  Munster  also,  as  in  Finnahy  in 
the  parish  of  Upperchurch,  Tipperary,  Fionn- 
fhaithche,  the  white  plat  or  exercise-field. 

The  sound  of  b  aspirated  (bh  =  v)  is  often  sunk 
altogether  in  Munster,  while  it  is  very  generally 
retained  in  the  other  provinces,  especially  in 
Connaught.  In  Derrynanool  in  the  parish  of 
Marshalstown,  Cork  (Doire-na-nabhall,  the  grove 
of  the  apples),  the  bh  is  not  heard,  while  it  is 
fully  sounded  in  Avalbane  in  the  parish  of  Clon- 
tibret,  Monaghan  (Abhall-bdn,  white  orchard), 
and  in  Killavil  in  the  parish  of  Kilshalvy,  Sligo 
(Cill-abhaill,  the  church  of  the  apple-tree). 

In  certain  positions  adh  is  sounded  like  Eng. 
eye,  in  the  south ;  thus  clad/i,  which  generally 
means  a  raised  dyke  of  clay,  but  sometimes  a  sunk 
ditch  or  fosse,  is  pronounced  cly  in  the  south,  as 
in  Cly  duff  in  Cork,  Limerick,  and  King's  County, 
black  dyke.  More  northerly  the  same  word  is 
made  da  or  claw ;  as  in  Clawdowen  near  Clones, 
deep  ditch ;  Clawinch,  an  island  in  Lough  Ree, 
the  island  of  the  dyke  or  mound. 

Adh  in  the  termination  of  words  is  generally 
sounded  like  oo  in  Connaught;  thus  madadh,  a 
dog,  is  anglicised  maddoo  in  Carrownamaddoo,  the 
quarterland  of  the  dogs,  the  name  of  three  town- 
lands  in  Sligo,  while  the  same  name  is  made 
Carrownamaddy  in  Roscommon  and  Donegal. 

One  of  the  most  distinctly  marked  provincial 
peculiarities,  so  far  as  names  are  concerned,  is  the 
pronunciation  that  prevails  in  Munster  of  the 
final  gh,  which  is  sounded  there  like  English  hard 
g  in.  Jig.  Great  numbers  of  local  names  are  in- 
fluenced by  this  custom.  Ballincollig  near  Cork 
is  Bailc-an-chullaigh,  the  town  of  the  boar ;  and 
Ballintannig  in  the  parish  of  Ballinaboy,  Cork, 

32  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.   [PART.  1. 

Baik-an-t-seanaigh,  the  town  of  the  fox.  The 
present  name  of  the  river  Maigue  in  Limerick  is 
formed  on  the  same  principle,  its  Irish  name,  as 
written  in  old  authorities,  being  Maigh,  that  is 
the  river  of  the  plain.  Nearly  all  the  Munster 
names  ending  in  g  hard  are  illustrations  of  this 
peculiar  pronunciation. 

It  is  owing  to  a  difference  in  the  way  of  pro- 
nouncing the  original  Irish  words,  that  cluain  (an 
insulated  bog  meadow)  is  sometimes  in  modern 
names  made  cloon,  sometimes  don,  and  occasionally 
clone;  that  dun  (a  fortified  residence)  is  in  one 
place  spelt  doon,  in  another  dun,  and  in  a  third 
down ;  that  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Dublin,  bally 
is  shortened  to  bal;  in  Donegal  rath  is  often  made 
rye  or  ray;  and  that  disert  is  sometimes  made  ister 
and  tristle,  &c.  &c. 

VI.  Irish  Names  with  English  Plurals. — It  is 
very  well  known  that  topographical  names  are 
often  in  the  plural  number,  and  this  is  found  to 
be  the  case  in  the  nomenclature  of  all  countries. 
Sometimes  in  transferring  foreign  names  of  this 
kind  into  English,  the  original  plurals  are  re- 
tained, but  much  oftener  they  are  rejected,  and 
replaced  by  English  plurals,  as  in  the  well-known 
examples,  Thebes  and  Athens. 

Great  numbers  of  Irish  topographical  names 
are  in  like  manner  plural  in  the  originals.  Very 
frequently  these  plural  forms  have  arisen  from 
the  incorporation  of  two  or  more  denominations 
into  one.  For  example,  the  townland  of  Rawes  in 
the  parish  of  Tynan,  Armagh,  was  originally  two, 
which  are  called  in  the  map  of  the  escheated 
estates  (1609)  Banragh  and  Douragh  (Ban-rath, 
and  Dubh-rath,  white  rath  and  black  rath) ;  but 
they  were  afterwards  formed  into  a  single  town- 
land,  which  is  now  called  Rawes,  that  is  Raths. 

CHAP,  ii.]  Systematic  Changes.  33 

There  is  a  considerable  diversity  in  the  manner 
of  anglicising  these  plural  forms.  Very  often 
the  original  terminations  are  retained ;  as  in 
Milleeny  in  the  parish  of  Ballyvourney,  Cork, 
Millinidhe,  little  hillocks,  from  meall,  a  hillock. 
Oftener  still,  the  primary  plural  inflection  is  re- 
jected, and  its  place  supplied  by  the  English 
termination.  Keeloges  is  the  name  of  about 
twenty- six  townlands  scattered  all  over  Ireland ; 
it  means  "  narrow  stripes  or  plots,"  and  the  Irish 
name  is  Caeloga,  the  plural  of  caelog.  Carrigans 
is  a  common  name  in  the  North,  and  Carrigeens 
in  the  South;  it  is  the  anglicised  form  of  Car- 
raiginidhe,  little  rocks.  Daars,  a  townland  in  the 
parish  of  Bodenstown,  Kildare,  means  "oaks," 
from  dairghe,  plural  of  dair,  an  oak.  So  Mullans 
and  Mullauns,  from  muttdin,  little  flat  hills  ;  Der- 
reens,  from  doirmidhe,  little  derries  or  oak-groves  • 
Bawnoges,  from  bdnoga.  little  green  fields,  &c. 

In  other  names,  the  Irish  plural  form  is  wholly 
or  partly  retained,  while  the  English  termination 
is  superadded  ;  and  these  double  plurals  are  very 
common.  Killybegs,  the  name  of  a  village  in 
Donegal,  and  of  several  other  places  in  different 
parts  of  Ireland,  is  called  by  the  Four  Masters, 
Cealla-beaga,  little  churches.  The  plural  of  cluain 
(an  insulated  meadow)  is  cluainte,  which  is  angli- 
cised Cloonty,  a  common  townland  name.  With 
s  added  it  becomes  Cloonties,  the  name  of  some 
townlands,  and  of  a  well-known  district  near 
Strokestown,  Roscommon,  which  is  called  Cloon- 
ties, because  it  consists  of  twenty-four  townlands, 
all  whose  names  begin  with  Cloon. 

VII.  Transmission  of  Oblique   Forms. — In  the 

transmission  of  words  from  ancient  into  modern 

European  languages,  there  is  a  curious  principle 

very  extensive  in  its  operation,  which  it  will  be 

VOL.  i.  4 

34  The  Irish  Local  Name  System      [PART  i. 

necessary  to  notice  briefly.  When  the  genitive 
case  singular  of  the  ancient  word  differed  mate- 
rially from  the  nominative,  when,  for  instance,  it 
was  formed  by  the  addition  of  one  or  more  con- 
sonants, the  modern  wcrd  was  very  frequently 
derived,  not  from  the  nominative,  but  from  one  of 
the  oblique  forms — commonly  the  dative. 

All  English  words  ending  in  ation  are  examples 
of  this,  such  as  nation :  the  original  Latin  is  natw, 
gen.  nationis,  abl.  natione,  and  the  English  has 
preserved  the  n  of  the  oblique  cases.  Lat.  pars, 
gen.  partis,  &c. ;  here  again  the  English  word 
part  retains  the  t  of  the  genitive. 

This  principle  has  been  actively  at  work  in  the 
reduction  of  names  from  Irish  to  modern  English 
forms.  There  is  a  class  of  nouns,  belonging  to 
the  fifth  declension  in  Irish,  which  form  their 
genitive  by  adding  n  or  nn  to  the  nominative,  as 
itrsa,  a  door  jamb,  genitive  ursan,  dative  ursain; 
and  this  n  is  obviously  cognate  with  the  n  of  the 
third  declension  in  Latin. 

Irish  names  that  are  declined  in  this  manner 
very  often  retain  the  n  of  the  oblique  cases  in 
their  modern  English  forms.  For  example,  Car- 
hooii,  the  name  of  a  place  in  the  parish  of  Kil- 
brogan,  Cork,  and  of  two  others  in  the  parishes  of 
Beagh  and  Tynagh,  Galway,  is  the  genitive  or 
•iative  of  Carhoo,  a  quarter  of  land: — Irish 
ceathramha,  gen.  ceathramhan.  In  this  manner, 
we  get  the  modern  forms,  Erin,  Alban,  Rathlin, 
from  Eire,  Alba  (Scotland),  Reachra. 

Other  forms  of  the  genitive,  besides  those  of 
the  fifth  declension,  are  also  transmitted.  Even 
within  the  domain  of  the  Irish  language,  the 
same  tendency  may  be  observed,  in  the  changes 
from  ancient  to  modern  forms ;  and  we  find  this 
very  often  the  case  in  nouns  ending  in  ach,  and 

CHAP,  ii.]          Systematic  Changes.  35 

which  make  the  gen.  in  aigh.  Tulach,  a  hill,  for 
instance,  is  tulaigh  in  the  genitive;  this  is  now 
very  often  used  as  a  nominative,  not  only  by 
speakers,  but  even  by  writers  of  authority,  and  most 
local  names  beginning  with  Tully  are  derived 
from  it ;  such  as  Tully  alien  on  the  Boyne,  above 
Drogheda,  which  is  most  truly  described  by  its 
Irish  name  Tulaigh- dlainn,  beautiful  hill. 

The  genitive  of  teach,  a  house,  is  tighe,  dative 
tigh,  and  at  the  present  day  this  last  is  the  uni- 
versal name  for  a  house  all  over  the  south  of 
Ireland.  Many  modern  names  beginning  with  Ti 
and  Tee  are  examples  of  this ;  for,  although  the 
correct  form  teach  is  usually  given  in  the  Annals, 
the  modern  names  are  derived,  not  from  this,  but 
from  tigh,  as  the  people  speak  it. 

There  is  an  old  church  in  King's  County,  which 
has  given  name  to  a  parish,  and  which  is  called 
in  the  Calendars,  Teach-Sarain,  Saran's  house. 
St.  Saran,  the  original  founder  of  the  church,  was 
of  the  race  of  the  Dealbhna,  who  were  descended 
from  Olioll  Olum,  King  of  Munster  (O'Clery's 
Cal.  20th  Jan.) ;  and  his  holy  well,  Tobar-Sarain, 
is  still  in  existence  near  the  church.  The  people 
call  the  church  in  Irish,  Tigh-Sarain,  and  it  is 
from  this  that  the  present  name  Tisaran  is  de- 

VIII.  Translated  Names. — "Whoever  examines 
the  Index  list  of  townlands  will  perceive,  that 
while  a  great  preponderance  of  the  names  are  ob- 
viously Irish,  a  very  considerable  number  are  plain 
English  words.  These  English  names  are  of  three 
classes,  viz.,  really  modern  English  names,  imposed 
by  English-speaking  people,  such  as  Kingstown, 
Castleblakeney,  Charleville ;  those  which  are 
translations  of  older  Irish  names ;  and  a  third 
class  to  which  I  shall  presently  return.  With 

36  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [PART  i. 

the  first  kind — pure  modern  English  names — I 
have  nothing  to  do;  I  shall  only  remark  that 
they  are  much  less  numerous  than  might  be  at 
first  supposed. 

A  large  proportion  of  those  townland  names 
that  have  an  English  form,  are  translations,  and 
of  these  I  shall  give  a  few  examples.  The  Irish 
name  of  Cloverhill  in  the  parish  of  Kilmacowen, 
Sligo,  is  Cnoc-na-seamar,  the  hill  of  the  shamrocks ; 
Skinstown  in  the  parish  of  Rathbeagh,  Kilkenny, 
is  a  translation  of  Baile-na-gcroiceann ;  and  Nutfield, 
in  the  parish  of  Aghavea,  Fermanagh,  is  correctly 
translated  from  the  older  name  of  Aghnagrow. 

Among  this  class  of  names,  there  are  not  a  few 
whose  meanings  have  been  incorrectly  rendered ; 
and  such  false  translations  are  generally  the  re- 
sult of  confounding  Irish  words,  which  are  nearly 
alike  in  sound,  but  different  in  meaning.  Fresh- 
ford  in  Kilkenny  should  have  been  called  Fresh- 
field  ;  for  its  Irish  name  is  Achad-ur  (Book  of 
Leinster),  which,  in  the  Life  of  St.  Pulcherius 
published  by  Colgan,  is  explained,  "Achadh-ur, 
i.  e.  green  or  soft  field,  on  account  of  the  moisture 
of  the  rivulets  which  flow  there."  The  present 
translation  was  adopted  because  achadh,  a  field, 
was  mistaken  for  ath,  a  ford.  The  Irish  name  of 
Strokestown  in  Roscommon,  is  not  Baik-na- 
mbuille,  as  the  present  incorrect  name  would  imply, 
but  Bel-atha-na-mbuille,  the  ford  (not  the  town)  of 
the  strokes  or  blows.  In  Castleventry,  the  name  of 
a  parish  in  Cork,  there  is  a  strange  attempt  at  pre- 
serving the  original  signification.  Its  Irish  name 
is  Caislean-na-gaiet/ie,  the  castle  of  the  wind,  which 
has  been  made  Castleventry,  as  if  ventry  had  some 
connection  in  meaning  with  ventus. 

In  the  parish  of  Red  City,  in  Tipperary,  there 
formerly  stood,  near  the  old  church,  an  ancient 

CHAP,  ii.]  Systematic  Changes.  37 

caher  or  fort,  built  of  red  sandstone,  and  called 
from  this  circumstance,  Caherderg,  or  red  fort. 
But  as  the  word  caher  is  often  used  to  signify  a 
city,  and  as  its  application  to  the  fort  was  for- 
gotten, the  name  came  to  be  translated  Red  City, 
which  ultimately  extended  to  the  parish. 

In  some  of  the  eastern  counties,  and  especially 
in  Meath,  great  numbers  of  names  end  in  the 
word  town ;  and  those  derived  from  families  are 
almost  always  translated  so  as  to  preserve  this 
termination,  as  Drakestown,  Gernonstown,  Cruice- 
town,  &c.  But  several  names  are  anglicised  very 
strangely,  and  some  barbarously,  in  order  to  force 
them  into  compliance  with  this  custom.  Thus 
the  Irish  name  of  Mooretown,  in  the  parish  of 
Ardcath,  is  Baile-an-churraigh,  the  town  of  the 
moor  or  marsh ;  Crannaghtown  in  the  parish  of 
Balrathboyne,  is  in  Irish  Baile-na-gcrannach,  the 
town  of  the  trees.  There  is  a  place  in  the  parish 
of  Martry,  called  Phosnixtown,  but  which  in  an 
Inquisition  of  James  I.  is  written  Phenockstown  ; 
its  Irish  name  is  Baile-  na-bhfionnog  [Ballyna- 
vinnog],  the  town  of  the  scaldcrows,  and  by  a 
strange  caprice  of  error,  a  scaldcrow  or  finnoge  is 
here  converted  into  a  phoenix  ! 

Many  names,  again,  of  the  present  class,  are 
only  half  translations,  one  part  of  the  word  being 
not  translated,  but  merely  transferred.  The 
reason  of  this  probably  was,  either  that  the  un- 
changed Irish  part  was  in  such  common  use  as  a 
topographical  term,  as  to  be  in  itself  sufficiently 
understood  or  that  the  translators  were  ignorant 
of  its  English  equivalent.  In  the  parish  of  Bally- 
carney,  Wexford,  there  is  a  townland  taking  its 
name  from  .a  ford,  called  in  Irish  Sgairbh-an- 
Bhreathnaigh  [Scarriff-an-vranny],  Walsh's  scariff, 
or  shallow  ford,  and  this  with  an  obvious  altera- 

38  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [PART  I. 

tion,  has  given  name  to  the  barony  of  Scarawalsh. 
In  Cargygray,  in  the  parish  of  Annahilt,  county 
of  Down,  gray  is  a  translation  of  riabhacha  and 
cargy  is  the  Irish  for  rocks;  the  full  name  is 
Cairrge-riabhacha,  grey  rocks.  The  Irish  name 
of  Curraghbridge,  near  Adair  in  Limerick,  is 
Droichet-na-corra,  the  bridge  of  the  weir  or  dam, 
and  it  is  anglicised  by  leaving  corra  nearly  un- 
changed, and  translating  droichet  to  bridge.  I 
shall  elsewhere  treat  of  the  term  Eochaill  (yew 
wood)  and  its  modern  forms  :  there  is  a  townland 
near  Tullamore,  King's  County,  with  this  Irish 
name,  but  now  somewhat  oddly  called  the  Wood  of 
0.  In  some  modern  authorities,  the  place  is 
called  The  Owe ;  so  that  while  chaill  was  correctly 
translated  wood,  it  is  obvious  that  the  first  syllable, 
co  (yew),  was  a  puzzle,  and  was  prudently  left 

IX.  Irish  Names  simulating  English  Forms. — 
The  non-Irish  names  of  the  third  class,  already 
alluded  to,  are  in  some  respects  more  interesting 
than  those  belonging  to  either  of  the  other  two. 
They  are  apparently  English,  but  in  reality  Irish; 
and  they  have  settled  down  in  their  present  forms, 
under  the  action  of  a  certain  corrupting  influence, 
which  often  comes  into  operation  when  words  are 
transferred  (not  translated)  from  one  language 
into  another.  It  is  the  tendency  to  convert  the 
strange  word,  which  is  etymologically  unintelli- 
gible to  the  mass  of  those  beginning  to  use  it, 
into  another  that  they  can  understand,  formed  by 
a  combination  of  their  own  words,  more  or  less 
like  the  original  in  sound,  but  almost  always 
totally  different  in  sense.  This  principle  exists 
and  acts  extensively  in  the  English  language,  and 
it  has  been  noticed  by  several  writers — among 
others  by  Latham,  Dr.  Trench,  and  Max  Muller, 

CHAP,  ii.]  Systematic  Cnanges.-  39 

the  last  of  whom  devotes  an  entire  lecture  to  it 
under  the  name  of  "  Popular  Etymology."  These 
writers  explain  by  it  the  formation  of  numerous 
English  words  and  phrases ;  and  in  their  writings 
may  be  found  many  amusing  examples,  a  few  of 
which  I  shall  quote. 

The  word  "  beefeater  "  is  corrupted  from  buff- 
etier,  which  was  applied  to  a  certain  class  of 
persons,  so  called,  not  from  eating  beef,  but  be- 
cause their  office  was  to  wait  at  the  buffet.  Shot- 
over  Hill,  near  Oxford,  a  name  which  the  people 
sometimes  explain  by  a  story  of  Little  John 
shooting  an  arrow  over  it,  is  merely  the  French 
Chateau  Vert.  The  tavern  sign  of  "The  goat 
and  compasses  "  is  a  corruption  of  the  older  sign- 
board, "God  encompasseth  us;"  "The  cat  and 
the  wheel"  is  "St.  Catherine's  wheel;"  Brazenose 
College,  Oxford,  was  originally  called  Brazenhuis, 
i.  e.  brew-house,  because  it  was  a  brewery  before 
the  foundation  of  the  college ;  "  La  rose  des 
quatre  saisons  "  becomes  "  The  rose  of  the  quarter 
sessions ; "  and  Bellerophon  is  changed  to  "  Billy 
ruffian,"  &c.,  &c. 

This  principle  has  been  extensively  at  work  in 
corrupting  Irish  names,  much  more  so  indeed 
than  anyone  who  has  not  examined  the  subject 
can  imagine ;  and  it  will  be  instructive  to  give 
some  characteristic  instances. 

The  best  anglicised  form  of  coill,  a  wood,  is  kill 
or  kyle ;  in  many  names,  however,  chiefly  in  the 
north  of  Ireland,  it  is  changed  to  the  English 
word  field.  Cranfield,  the  name  of  three  town- 
lauds  in  Down,  Antrim,  and  Tyrone,  is  in  Irish 
creamhchoill  [cravwhill],  i.  e.  wild  garlick-wood. 
Leamhchoill  [lavwhill],  a  very  usual  name,  mean- 
ing "elm-wood,"  is  generally  transformed  into 
the  complete  English  word  Longfield,  which  forms 

40  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [PART  I. 

the  whole  or  part  of  a  great  many  townland 
names.  The  conversion  of  choill  into  field  seems  a 
strange  transformation,  but  every  step  in  the 
process  is  accounted  for  by  principles  examined  in 
this  and  next  chapter,  namely,  the  conversion  of 
ch  into  f,  the  addition  of  d  after  /,  and  the  tend- 
ency at  present  under  consideration,  namely,  the 
alteration  of  the  Irish  into  an  English  word. 
There  are  many  townland  names  in  the  South, 
as  well  as  in  the  North,  in  which  the  same  word 
coill  is  made  hill.  Who  could  doubt  but  that 
Coolhill  in  the  parish  of  the  Rower,  Kilkenny, 
means  the  cool  or  cold  hill ;  or  that  Boy -hill  in  the 
parish  of  Aghavea,  Fermanagh,  is  the  hill  of  the 
boys  ?  But  the  first  is  really  cukhoill  [coolhilll, 
backwood,  and  the  second  buidhechoill  [bwee-hill], 
yellow- wood.  So  also  Scaryhill  in  Antrim,  rocky- 
wood  ;  Cullahill  in  Tipperary,  and  Queen's  County, 
hazel-wood ;  and  many  others. 

Mointedn  [moan-thaun],  boggy  land,  and  Moin- 
tin  [moantheen],  a  little  bog,  are  in  the  South 
very  generally  anglicised  mountain,  as  in  Ballyna- 
mountain,  Kilmountain,  Coolmountain,  &c.,  all 
townland  names ;  and  in  both  North  and  South, 
uachtar,  upper,  is  frequently  changed  to  water,  as 
in  Ballywater  in  Wexford,  upper  town ;  Bally- 
watermoy  in  Antrim,  the  town  of  the  upper  plain ; 
Kilwatermoy  in  Waterford,  the  church  of  the 
upper  plain.  Braighid,  a  gorge,  is  made  broad,  as 
in  Knockbroad  in  Wexford,  the  hill  of  the  gorge ; 
and  the  genitive  case  of  conadh,  firewood,  appears 
as  honey,  as  in  Magherahoney  in  Antrim,  the  field 
of  the  firewood. 

Many  of  these  transformations  are  very  ludic- 
rous, and  were  probably  made  under  the  influence 
of  a  playful  humour,  aided  by  a  little  imagination. 
There  is  a  parish  in  Antrim  called  Billy  ;  a  town- 

CHAP,  ii.]  Systematic  Changes.  41 

land  in  the  parish  of  Kinawly,  Fermanagh,  called 
Molly ;  and  another,  in  the  parish  of  Ballinlough, 
Limerick,  with  the  more  ambitious  name  of 
Cromwell ;  but  all  these  sail  under  false  colours, 
for  the  first  is  bile  [bille],  an  ancient  tree;  the 
second  mdlaighe  [mauly] ,  hill-brows,  or  braes ; 
and  Cromwell  is  nothing  more  than  crom-choill 
[crumwhill],  stooped  (crom)  or  sloping- wood.  The 
pointed  little  hill  over  the  Ballycorus  lead  mines, 
near  Enniskerry,  is  well  known  by  the  name  of 
Katty  Gollagher  ;  but  the  correct  name  is  Carrig- 
Ollaghan  or  Carrig-  Uallaghan,  Ollaghan's  or  Hoola- 
han's  rock. 

There  is  a  townland  in  Kerry  and  another  in 
Limerick  with  the  formidable  name  Knockdown, 
but  it  has  a  perfectly  peaceful  meaning,  viz., 
brown  hill.  It  required  a  little  pressure  to  force 
Tuaim-drecon  (Four  Masters :  Brecon's  burial 
mound)  into  Tomregan,  the  name  of  a  parish  on 
the  borders  of  Fermanagh  and  Cavan ;  Tuaim-coill, 
the  burial  mound  of  the  hazel,  a  name  occurring 
in  several  parts  of  "Wexford  and  Wicklow,  is  very 
fairly  represented  in  pronunciation  by  the  present 
name  Tomcoyle ;  Barnycarroll  would  be  taken  as 
a  man's  name  by  anyone;  for  Barny  (Bernard) 
is  as  common  in  Ireland  as  a  Christian  name,  as 
Carroll  is  as  a  surname  ;  but  it  is  really  the  name 
of  a  townland  in  the  parish  of  Kilcolman  in  Mayo, 
representing  exactly  the  sound  of  Bearn-Ui- 
Chearbhaitt,  O'Carroll's  gap;  and  in  case  of 
Laithreach-Chormaic,  in  Derry  (Cormac's  larha  or 
house-site),  the  temptation  was  irresistible  to  call 
it  as  it  is  now  called,  Larrycormac. 

There  are  several  places  in  Tipperary  and 
Limerick  called  by  the  Scriptural  name  Mount- 
sion  :  but  mount  is  only  a  translation  of  cnoc,  and 
sion,  an  ingenious  adaption  of  sidhedn  [sheeawn], 

42  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [PART  I. 

a  fairy  mount ;  the  full  Irish  name  being 
Cnoc-d-tsidheain  [Knocateean],  fairy-mount  hill: 
and  Islafalcon  in  the  parish  of  Ardtramon, 
Wexford,  is  not  what  it  appears  to  be,  the 
island  of  the  falcon,  but  Oiledn-a'-phocdin  [Ilaun- 
a-fockaun],  the  island  or  river  holm  of  the  buck 

"We  have  a  very  characteristic  example  of  this 
process  in  the  name  of  the  Phoenix  Park,  Dublin. 
This  word  Phoenix  (as  applied  to  our  park)  is  a 
corruption  of  fionn-uisg*  [feenisk],  which  means 
clear  or  limpid  water.  It  was  originally  the 
name  of  the  beautiful  and  perfectly  transparent 
spring  well  near  the  phoenix  pillar,  situated  just 
outside  the  wall  of  the  Viceregal  grounds,  behind 
the  gate  lodge,  and  which  is  the  head  of  the 
stream  that  supplies  the  ponds  near  the  Zoolo- 
gical Gardens.  To  complete  the  illusion,  the 
Earl  of  Chesterfield,  in  the  year  1745,  erected  a 
pillar  near  the  well,  with  the  figure  of  a  phoenix 
rising  from  its  ashes  on  the  top  of  it ;  and  most 
Dublin  people  now  believe  that  the  Park  received 
its  name  from  this  pillar.  The  change  from 
fionn-uisg1  to  phoenix  is  not  peculiar  to  Dublin,  for 
the  river  Finisk,  which  joins  the  Blackwater 
below  Cappoquin,  is  called  Phoenix  by  Smith  in 
his  History  of  Waterford. 

X.  Retention  of  Irish  written  Forms. — To  the 
general  rule  of  preserving  the  pronunciation,  there 
is  a  remarkable  exception  of  frequent  occurrence. 
In  many  names  the  original  spelling  is  either 
wholly  or  partly  preserved  ; — in  other  words,  the 
modern  forms  are  derived  from  the  ancient,  not 
as  they  were  spoken,  but  as  they  were  written. 
In  almost  all  such  cases,  the  names  are  pronounced 
in  conformity  with  the  powers  of  the  English 
letters  ;  and  accordingly  whenever  the  old  ortho' 

CHAP.  IT.]  Systematic  Changes.  43 

graphy  is  retained,  the  original  pronunciation  is 
generally  lost. 

This  may  be  illustrated  by  the  word  rath,  which 
is  in  Irish  pronounced  raw.  There  are  over  400 
townland  names  beginning  with  this  word  in  the 
form  of  ra,  rah,  raw,  and  ray ;  these  names  are 
derived  from  the  spoken,  not  the  written  originals  ; 
and,  while  the  pronunciation  is  retained,  the  spell- 
ing is  lost.  There  are  more  than  700  names  com- 
mencing with  the  word  in  its  original  form,  rath, 
in  which  the  correct  spelling  is  preserved  ;  but  the 
pronunciation  is  commonly  lost,  for  the  word  is 
pronounced  rath  to  rhyme  with  bath.  It  is  worthy 
of  remark,  however,  that  the  peasantry  living  in 
or  near  these  places,  to  whom  the  names  have  been 
handed  down  orally,  and  not  by  writing,  generally 
preserve  the  correct  pronunciation ;  of  which 
Rathmines,  Rathgar,  Rathfarnham,  and  Rathcoole 
are  good  examples,  being  pronounced  by  the  peo- 
ple of  the  localities,  Ra-mines,  Ra-gar,  Ra-f  arnham, 
and  Ra-coole. 

The  principal  effect  of  this  practice  of  retaining 
the  old  spelling  is,  that  consonants  which  are  aspi- 
rated in  the  original  names,  are  hardened  or  re- 
stored in  the  modern  pronunciation.  To  illustrate 
these  principles  I  have  given  the  following  short 
list  of  words  that  enter  frequently  into  Irish  names, 
each  containing  an  aspirated  letter ;  and  after  each 
word,  the  names  of  two  places  of  which  it  forms  a 
part,  In  the  first  of  each  pair,  the  letter  is  aspi- 
rated as  it  ought  to  be,  but  the  original  spelling  is 
lost ;  in  the  second,  the  orthography  is  partly  or 
wholly  preserved,  and  the  letter  is  not  aspirated, 
but  sounded  as  it  would  indicate  to  an  English 
reader,  and  the  proper  pronunciation  is  lost : — 

1.  Ath  [ah],  a  ford :  Agolagh  in  Antrim,  Ath- 
gobhlach,  forked  ford  ;  Athenry  in  Galway,  a  cor- 

44  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [PART  I. 

nipt  form  from  Ath-na-riogh  (Four  Masters),  the 
ford  of  the  kings.  2.  Gaoth,  wind  (gwee)  ;  Mas- 
tergeeha,  two  townlands  in  Kerry,  Masteragwee 
near  Coleraine,  and  Mostragee  in  Antrim,  the 
master  of  the  wind,  so  called  from  the  exposed 
situation  of  the  places ;  Balgeeth,  the  name  of  some 
places  in  Meath,  windy  town,  the  same  as  Ballyna- 
geeha  and  Ballynagee  in  other  counties.  3.  Tamh- 
nach,  a  green  field  [tawnagh]  ;  Fintona  in  Tyrone, 
written  by  the  Four  Masters  Fionn-tamhnach,  fair- 
coloured  field  ;  Tamnyagan  in  the  parish  of  Ban- 
agher,  Derry,  O'Hagan's  field.  4.  Damh  [dauv], 
an  ox ;  Davillaun  near  Inishbofin,  Mayo,  ox- 
island  ;  Madame  in  the  parish  of  Kimaloda,  Cork, 
Magh-damh,  the  plain  of  the  oxen. 

A  remarkable  instance  of  this  hardening  process 
occurs  in  some  of  the  Leinster  counties,  where  the 
Irish  word  bothar  [boher] ,  a  road,  is  converted  into 
batter.  This  word  "  batter"  is,  or  was,  well  under- 
stood in  these  counties  to  mean  an  ancient  road ; 
and  it  was  used  as  a  general  term  in  this  sense  in 
the  patents  of  James  I.  It  signifies  in  "Wexford,  a 
lane  or  narrow  road  : — "  Bater,  a  lane  bearing  to  a 
high  read."  ("  Glossary  of  the  dialect  of  Forth 
and  Bargy."  By  Jacob  Poole :  Edited  by  "William 
Barnes,  B.D.).  "As  for  the  word  Bater,  that  in 
English  purpozeth  a  lane  bearing  to  an  highway,  I 
take  it  for  a  meer  Irish  worde  that  crept  unawares 
into  the  English,  through  the  daily  intercourse  of 
the  English  and  Irish  inhabitants."  (Stanyhurst 
quoted  in  same). 

The  word  occurs  in  early  Anglo-Irish  documents 
in  the  form  of  bothir,  or  bothyr,  which  being  pro- 
nounced according  to  the  powers  of  the  English 
letters,  was  easily  converted  into  batter  or  batter. 
It  forms  a  part  of  the  following  names  : — Batters- 
town,  the  name  of  four  townlands  in  Meath,  which 

CHAP,  ii.]  Systematic  Changes.  45 

were  always  called  in  Irish  Baile-an-bh6thair,  i.e., 
the  town  of  the  road ;  and  anglicised  by  changing 
bothar  to  batter,  and  translating  bails  to  town.  Bat- 
ter John  and  Ballybatter  are  also  in  Meath.  Near 
Drogheda  there  is  a  townland  called  Grreenbatter; 
and  another  called  Yellowbatter,  which  are  called 
in  Irish,  Boherglas  and  Boherboy,  having  the  same 
meanings  as  the  present  names,  viz.  green  road  and 
yellow  road. 

"We  have  also  some  examples  in  and  around  Dub- 
lin, one  of  which  is  the  well-known  name  of  Stony- 
batter.  Long  before  the  city  had  extended  so  far, 
and  while  Stonybatter  was  nothing  more  than  a 
country  road,  it  was — as  it  still  continues  to  be — 
the  great  thoroughfare  to  Dublin  from  the  districts 
lying  west  and  north-west  of  the  city  ;  and  it  wae 
known  by  the  name  of  Bothar-na-g clock  [Boherna- 
glogh],  i.e.  the  road  of  the  stones,  which  was 
changed  to  the  modern  equivalent,  Stonybatter  or 
Stonyroad.  One  of  the  five  great  roads  leading 
from  Tara,  which  were  constructed  in  the  second 
century,  viz.  that  called  Slighe  Cualann,  passed 
through  Dublin  by  Ratoath,  and  on  towards  Bray ; 
under  the  name  of  Bealach  Duibhlinne  (the  road  or 
pass  of  the  [river]  Duibhlinn)*  it  is  mentioned  in 
the  following  quotation  from  the  "Book  of 
Rights  :"— 

"  It  is  prohibited  to  him  (the  king  of  Erin)  to  go  with  a  host 
On  Monday  over  the  Bealach  Duibhlinne" 

The  old  ford  of  hurdles,  which  in  those  early 
ages  formed  the  only  foot  passage  across  the  Lif- 
fey,  and  which  gave  the  name  of  Ath-Cliath  to  the 
city,  crossed  the  river  where  Whitworth  Bridge 

*  Duibhlinn  was  originally  the  name  of  that  part  of  the  Ldffey 
on  which  the  city  now  stands. 

46  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.    [PART  L 

now  stands,  leading  from  Church-street  to  Bridge- 
street  ;*  and  the  road  from  Tara  to  Wicklow  must 
necessarily  have  crossed  the  Liffey  at  this  point. 
There  can  be,  I  think,  no  doubt  that  the  present 
Stonybatter  formed  a  portion  of  this  ancient  road 
— a  statement  that  is  borne  out  by  two  independent 
circumstances.  First — Stonybatter  lies  straight 
on  the  line,  and  would,  if  continued,  meet  the 
Liffey  exactly  at  Whitworth  Bridge.  Secondly, 
the  name  Stonybatter,  or  Bothar-na-gcloch,  affords 
even  a  stronger  confirmation.  The  most  important 
of  the  ancient  Irish  roads  were  generally  paved 
with  large  blocks  of  stone,  somewhat  like  the  old 
Roman  roads — a  fact  that  is  proved  by  the  remains 
of  those  that  can  now  be  traced.  It  is  exactly  this 
kind  of  a  road  that  would  be  called  by  the  Irish — 
even  at  the  present  day — Bohernaglogh  ;  and  the 
existence  of  this  name,  on  the  very  line  leading  to 
the  ancient  ford  over  the  Liffey,  leaves  scarcely 
any  doubt  that  this  was  a  part  of  the  ancient  Slighe 
Cualann.  It  must  be  regarded  as  a  fact  of  great 
interest,  that  the  modern-looking  name  Stony- 
batter — changed  as  it  has  been  in  the  course  of 
ages — descends  to  us  with  a  history  seventeen 
hundred  years  old  written  on  its  front. 

Booterstown  (near  Dublin)  is  another  member 
of  the  same  family ;  it  is  merely  another  form 
of  Batterstown,  i.e.  Roadtown.  In  a  roll  of  about 
the  year  1435  it  is  written  in  the  Anglo-Irish 
form,  BaUybothyr  (Baik-an-bhothair — town  of  the 
road),  of  which  the  present  name,  Booterstown,  is 
a  kind  of  half  translation.  In  old  Anglo-Irish 
documents  frequent  mention  is  made  of  a  road 
leading  from  Dublin  to  Bray.  In  a  roll  of  the 
fifteenth  century  it  is  called  Bothyr-de-Bree 

•Gilbert's  "  History  of  Dublin,"  Vol.  I.,  chap.  IX 

CHAP,  in.]  Corruptions.  47 

(road  of  Bray) ;  and  it  is  stated  that  it  was  by  this 
road  the  O'Byrnes  and  O'Tooles  usually  came  to 
Dublin.*  It  is  very  probable  that  the  Booters- 
town  road  and  this  Bray  road  were  one  and  tho 
same,  and  that  both  were  a  continuation  of  tl  c 
ancient  Slighe  Cualann. 



WHILE  the  majority  of  names  have  been  modern- 
ised in  accordance  with  the  principles  just  laid 
down,  great  numbers,  on  the  other  hand,  have  been 
contracted  and  corrupted  in  a  variety  of  ways. 
Some  of  these  corruptions  took  place  in  the  Irish 
language ;  but  far  the  greatest  number  were  in- 
troduced by  the  English-speaking  people  in  trans- 
ferring the  words  from  the  Irish  to  the  English 
language.  These  corruptions  are  sometimes  so  ex- 
tremely irregular  and  unexpected,  that  it  is  impos- 
sible to  reduce  them  to  rule,  or  to  assign  them  to 
any  general  or  uniform  influence  except  mere 
ignorance,  or  the  universal  tendency  to  contrac- 
tion. In  most  cases,  however,  they  are  the  result 
of  laws  or  principles,  by  which  certain  consonants 
have  a  tendency  to  be  substituted  for  others,  or  to 
be  placed  before  or  after  them,  some  of  which  are 
merely  provincial,  or  attributable  to  particular 
races  of  people,  while  the  influence  of  others  mav 
be  traced  throughout  the  whole  of  Ireland.  Some 
of  these  laws  of  corruption  have  been  noticed  by  Dr. 

*  For  this  information  about  Booterstown  and  Bothyr-de- 
Bree,  I  am  indebted  to  Mr.  Gilbert. 

48  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.    [PART  i. 

O'Donovan  and  Dr.  Reeves  ;  and  I  have  given  ex- 
pression to  others  :  I  have  here  brought  them  all, 
or  the  most  important  of  them,  under  one  view, 
and  illustrated  each  by  a  number  of  examples. 

I.  Interchange  of  1,  r,  n,  m. — The  interchange  of 
these  letters  is  common  in  most  languages ;  it 
would  be  easy,  if  necessary,  to  give  examples,  from 
every  language  of  Europe.  For  instance,  the 
modern  name  Bologna  is  a  corruption  of  the  an- 
cient Bononia ;  Palermo  of  Panormus ;  Amsterdam 
of  Amstel-dam  (the  dam  of  the  river  Amstel) ,' 
Rousillon  of  Ruscino,  &c.  &c. 

The  substitution  of  these  letters,  one  for  another, 
is  also  exceedingly  common  in  Irish  names ;  and 
since  this  kind  of  corruption  prevails  in  Irish  as 
well  as  in  English,  the  names  were  altered  in  this 
particular  respect,  quite  as  much  in  one  language 
as  in  the  other.  L  appears  to  have  been  a 
favourite  letter,  and  the  instances  are  particularly 
numerous  in  which  it  is  substituted  for  the  letter 
r.  The  word  sruthair  [sruher],  a  stream,  forms 
the  whole  or  part  of  many  names ;  and  generally 
— but  not  always — the  r  has  been  changed  /,  as  in 
Shrule,  Shruel,  Struell,  Sroohill,  all  names  of  places 
in  different  parts  of  Ireland.  Biorar,  watercress, 
is  now  always  called  in  Irish  biolar,  in  which  form 
it  enters  into  several  names,  as,  for  example,  Agha- 
viller,  a  parish  in  Kilkenny ;  the  Four  Masters 
call  it  Achadh-biorair  [Ahabirrer],  the  field  of  the 
watercresses,  but  the  present  spoken  Irish  name  is 
Achadh-bhiolair,  from  which  the  English  form  is 
derived ;  in  Toberburr  near  Finglas,  Dublin,  the 
original  r  is  retained  (Tobar-biorair,  watercress 
well).  Loughbrickland  in  Down  was  anciently 
Loch-Bricrenn  (Four  Masters),  the  lake  of  Bricriu ; 
and  it  received  its  name  from  an  Ulster  poet  of  the 
time  of  king  Conor  Mac  JN"essa  (1st  cent.),  who,  on 

CHAP,  in.]  Corruptions.  49 

account  of  the  bitterness  of  his  satires,  was  called 
Bricriu  Nemhthenga — Bricriu  of  the  poison-tongue 
(see  O'Curry,  Lect.  III.  17). 

N  is  also  sometimes,  though  not  often,  changed 
to  /,  as  in  the  case  of  Castleconnell  near  Limerick, 
which  is  the  castle  of  the  O'Connings,  not  of  the 
O'Connells,  as  the  present  form  of  the  name 
would  indicate.  The  O'Connings,  or  as  they  are 
now  called  Gunnings,  were  chiefs  of  the  territory 
of  Aes-Greine,  extending  from  Knockgrean  to 
Limerick ;  and  this  was  their  principal  castle. 

The  change  of  n  to  r  is  one  of  frequent  occur- 
rence ;  an  example  of  which  is  the  name  of  Kil- 
macrenan  in  Donegal,  which  is  called  in  Irish 
authorities,  Cill-mac-nEnain,  translated  hy  Colgan, 
the  church  of  the  sons  of  Enan,  who  were  con- 
temporaries and  relatives  of  St.  Columba. 

The  Irish  name  of  Limerick  is  Luimneach 
[Liminegh :  Book  of  Leinster,  &c.],  which  was 
formerly  applied  to  a  portion  of  the  river  Shannon ; 
as  the  following  passage  from  an  ancient  poem  on 
the  death  of  St.  Cuimmin  of  Clonfert,  quoted  by 
the  Four  Masters  at  561,  will  show : — 

"  The  Luimneach  did  not  bear  on  its  bosom,  of  the  race  of 

Munster,  into  Leath  Chuinn, 

A  corpse  in  a  boat  so   precious  as   he,    Cummine,   son  of 

and  the  modern  name  was  derived  from  this,  by  a 
change  of  n  to  r,  and  by  substituting  ck  for  the 
guttural  in  the  end. 

The  root  of  the  word  is  lorn,  bare,  of  which 
luimne  is  a  diminutive  form  (see  for  the  diminu- 
tive termination  ne,  2nd  Vol.,  c.  n.) ;  and  from 
this  again  was  developed,  by  the  addition  of  the 
adjective  postfix  ach,  the  full  name  Luimneach 
which  signifies  a  bare  or  barren  spot  of  land,  and 
which  was  applied  to  the  place  long  before  the 
VOL.  i.  5 

60  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [PART  l 

foundation  of  the  city.  Several  conjectural  and 
legendary  derivations  of  the  name  are  cited  by 
Maurice  Lenihan  in  the  "  Kilk.  Arch.  Jour., ' 
1864-6,  p.  425,  note  1 ;  but  I  do  not  think  it 
necessary  to  notice  them  here. 

In  connection  with  the  name  of  Limerick,  it 
may  be  remarked  that  lorn,  bare,  is  a  usual  com- 
ponent of  local  names.  There  is  a  place  called 
Lumcloon  near  the  village  of  Cloghan  in  King's 
County,  which  the  Four  Masters  call  Lomchluain, 
bare  cloon  or  meadow  ;  or  more  fully  Lomchluain- 
I-Fhlaithile,  from  the  family  of  O'Flahily,  or  aa 
they  now  call  themselves,  Flattery.  There  are 
other  places  of  the  same  name  in  Carlow  and 
Wicklow ;  and  it  takes  the  form  of  Lomcloon  in 
Sligo.  Clonlum  in  Armagh,  and  Cloonloum  in 
Clare,  have  the  same  meaning,  the  root  words 
being  reversed. 

Luimneach  itself  is  a  name  of  frequent  occur- 
rence, but  only  in  one  other  place  is  it  anglicised 
Limerick,  namely,  in  the  parish  of  Kilcavan  in 
Wexford.  It  takes  the  form  of  Limnagh  in 
Sligo ;  of  Lumnagh  near  Ballyvourney  in  Cork ; 
and  of  Luimnagh  in  Galway.  Lomanagh,  the 
name  of  some  places  in  Kerry ;  Lomaunagh  (-baun 
and  -roe,  whitish  and  reddish)  in  Galway;  and 
Loumanagh  in  Cork,  are  slightly  different  in 
formation ;  but  they  have  all  the  same  meaning 
as  Luimneach.  The  word  is  seen  compounded  in 
Cloonlumney  in  Mayo,  and  in  Athlumney  in 
Meath,  the  meadow,  and  the  ford,  of  the  bare 

In  some  of  the  northern  counties,  the  Irish- 
speaking  people  cannot  without  difficulty  articu- 
late the  combinations  en  and  gn,  and  in  order  to 
facilitate  the  pronunciation  they  change  the  n  to  r. 
There  are  about  forty-five  townlands  commencing 

CHAP,  in.]  Corruptions.  51 

with  the  word  Crock,  all  in  Ulster,  except  only  a 
few  in  Connaught  and  Leinster  ;  and  a  person 
unacquainted  with  the  present  peculiarity  might 
be  puzzled  by  this  prefix,  or  might  perhaps  con- 
sider it  an  anglicised  form  of  cruach,  a  rick  or  piled- 
up  hill.  But  all  these  Crocks  are  really  Knocks 
disguised  by  the  change  of  this  one  letter.  In 
the  Ulster  counties,  the  termination  nagrow  or 
nagrew  is  often  found  in  townland  names,  as  in 
Tullynagrow  in  the  parish  of  Muckno,  Monaghan ; 
this  termination  has  been  similarly  corrupted, 
Tullynagrow  being  properly  Tulaigh-na-gcno,  the 
hill  of  the  nuts. 

The  change  of  I  to  r  is  not  very  common,  but  it 
is  found  in  some  names.  Dromcolliher  in  Limerick 
is  properly  Dniim-collchoille,  the  ridge  or  hill  of 
the  hazel-wood ;  and  Ballysakeery,  a  parish  in 
Mayo,  is  called  in  Mac  Firbis's  "Hy  Fiachrach," 
Baile-easa-caoile  [Ballysakeely],  the  town  of  thft 
narrow  cataract.  Killery  harbour  in  Conneinara 
is  called  at  the  present  day  in  Irish  Caol-shaire 
[Keelhary],  from  which  the  present  name  is 
formed ;  but  it  should  be  Caol-shaile,  or,  as  it  is 
written  more  fully  by  the  Four  Masters,  Caol- 
shaile-ruadh,  i.  e.  the  reddish  narrow-sea-inlet,  a 
most  appropriate  name. 

The  change  of  m  to  n,  or  vice  versd,  is  not  of 
frequent  occurrence.  In  Rathangan  in  Kildare, 
the  first  n  should  be  m,  the  correct  name  as 
written  by  the  Four  Masters  being  Rath-iomghain,' 
Imgan's  rath ;  and  the  old  rath  is  still  to  be  seen 
just  outside  the  town,  in  a  field  near  the  church. 
The  barony  of  Glenquin  in  Limerick  takes  its  name 
from  a  townland  (now  divided  into  three),  near 
Newcastle ;  the  proper  anglicised  form  would  be 
Glenquim,  for  the  Irish  name  is  Crleann-a'-chuim, 
the  glen  of  the  coom  or  hollow. 

52  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [PART  I. 

N  is  changed  to  m  in  Kilmainham  (near 
Dublin),  which  should  have  been  called  Kilmainen; 
it  is  written  Kilmanan  by  Boate,  which  shows 
that  it  has  been  corrupted  within  the  last  two  or 
three  hundred  years.  It  took  its  name  from  St. 
Maighnenn,  who  was  bishop  and  abbot  there 
early  in  the  seventh  century,  and  who  is  comme- 
morated in  the  Calendars  at  the  18th  of  December. 
The  termination  of  the  last  name  seems  to  have 
been  formed  in  imitation  of  the  common  English 
topographical  suffix  ham,  home.  In  Moyacomb, 
the  name  of  a  parish  in  Wicklow,  there  is  a 
genuine  change  of  n  to  m,  the  Irish  name  being 
Magh-da-chon  [Moyacon :  Four  Masters]  the  plain 
of  the  two  hounds.  We  see  the  same  in  Slieve 
Eelim,  the  name  of  a  mountain  range  east  of 
Limerick  city,  which  is  Sliabh-Eibhlinne  [Slieve- 
Evlinna]  in  the  Annals,  Ebliu's  or  Eblinn's  moun- 
tain ;  and  it  was  so  called,  according  to  an  ancient 
legend  in  Lebor  na  hUidhre,  from  Ebliu,  the  step- 
mother of  Eochaidh,  who  gave  name  to  Lough 
Neagh,  mentioned  further  on. 

Several  of  the  letter  changes  now  examined 
have  been  evidently  caused,  or  at  least  facilitated, 
by  the  difficulty  of  articulating  the  same  letter 
twice  in  immediate  succession,  and  this  is  a  prin- 
ciple of  considerable  influence  in  corrupting  lan- 
guage. It  is  easier  to  say  Aghaviller  than  the 
right  name  Aghavirrer,  and  so  on  in  several 
other  cases. 

II.  Change  of  ch,  gh,  dh,  and  th,  to  f. — The 
guttural  sound  of  c  aspirated  (ch),  as  heard  in 
loch,  cannot  be  pronounced  at  all  by  a  speaker  of 
mere  English ;  and  as  it  constantly  occurs  in 
names,  it  is  interesting  to  observe  the  different 
ways  in  which  English  substitutes  are  provided. 
WTien  it  comes  in  the  end  of  words,  it  is  often 

CHAP,  in.]  Corruptions.  53 

passed  over  altogether,  being  neither  represented 
in  writing  nor  in  pronunciation,  as  in  Ballymena 
in  Antrim,  which  is  in  Irish  Baik-meadhonack, 
middle  town,  the  same  as  Ballymenagh  in  other 
places.  Sometimes,  both  in  the  middle  and  end 
of  words,  it  is  represented  by  gh,  which  is  often 
sounded  by  the  English-speaking  natives,  like  the 
proper  guttural  ch,  as  in  Lough,  Lughany,  while 
those  who  cannot  sound  the  guttural,  pronounce 
it  as  k  or  h  (Lock,  Luhany)  ;  but  if  this  gh  occur 
at  the  end  of  words,  it  is  commonly  not  sounded 
at  all,  as  in  Fermanagh,  Kilnamanagh,  &c.  In 
the  middle  of  words  its  place  is  often  supplied  by 
\  alone,  as  in  Crohane,  the  name  of  a  parish  in 
Pipperary,  and  of  several  townlands,  which  repre- 
sents cruachdn,  a  little  rick  or  hill ;  and  in  many 
cases  it  is  represented  by  k  or  ck,  as  in  Foorkill 
near  Athenry,  Galway,  Fuarchoill,  cold  wood. 

Sometimes  it  is  changed  to  wh,  of  which  a  good 
example  is  seen  in  Glenwhirry,  a  parish  in  An- 
trim, taking  its  name  from  the  river  which  runs 
by  Kells  into  the  Main.  It  is  called  Glancurry 
in  the  Inquisitions,  and  its  Irish  name  is  Gkann- 
a'-choire,  the  glen  of  the  river  Curry,  or  Coire, 
this  last  name  signifying  a  caldron.  The  caldron 
is  a  deep  pool  formed  under  a  cataract ;  and  a 
rocky  hill  near  it  is  called  Sceir-a?-choire,  the  rock 
of  the  caldron,  which,  in  the  modernised  form 
Skerrywhirry,  is  the  name  of  a  townland. 

But  there  is  a  more  remarkable  change  which 
this  aspirate  undergoes  in  common  with  three 
others.  In  many  names,  the  sounds  of  the  Irish 
aspirated  letters  ch,  gh,  dh,  and  th,  are  converted 
into  the  sound  of/;  and  this  occurs  so  frequently 
as  to  preclude  all  supposition  of  mere  accident. 
Ch  is  a  hard  guttural,  as  heard  in  the  common 
word  lough  (loch] ;  gh  or  dh  (both  which  have  the 

54  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [PART  i. 

same  sound)  is  the  corresponding  soft  guttural ; 
th  is  sounded  exactly  like  English  h. 

The  sound  of  ch  is  changed  to  that  of  /  in  the 
following  names.  Knocktopher  in  Kilkenny  is 
in  Irish  Cnoc-a'-tochair,  the  hill  of  the  togher  or 
causeway,  and  it  was  so  called  from  an  ancient 
togher  across  a  marsh  ;  Luffany,  the  name  of  two 
to wnlands  in  Kilkenny,  anfhliuchaine  [an  luhany], 
the  wet  land ;  Clif den,  the  name  of  a  well-known 
village  in  Galway,  is  a  very  modern  corruption  of 
Clochdn,  which  is  still  its  Irish  name,  and  which 
means  a  beehive-shaped  stone  house  ;  but  accord- 
ing to  some,  the  Clochdn  was  here  a  row  of  stepping- 
stones  across  the  Owenglin  river ;  Lisnafiffy,  the 
name  of  two  townlands  in  Down,  Lios-na-faithche, 
the  Us  of  the  faha  or  exercise-green ;  Fidorfe, 
near  Ratoath  in  Meath,  Fidh-dorclia,  dark-wood. 

The  change  of  gh  or  dh  to  f  is  not  quite  so 
common,  but  we  find  it  in  Muff,  the  name  of  two 
villages,  one  in  Donegal,  and  the  other  in  Derry, 
and  of  eight  townlands,  all  in  the  northern  half 
of  Ireland ;  it  is  merely  a  form  of  magh,  a  plain  ; 
and  the  Irish  name,  as  now  pronounced  in  the 
localities,  comes  very  near  the  English  form. 
Balief  in  Kilkenny  is  Baik-Aodha,  Hugh's  town. 
In  some  cases,  instead  of  the  hard  labial  fy  it  is 
turned  into  the  corresponding  soft  labial  v,  as  in 
Lough  Melvin  in  Leitrim  ;  which  is  called  in  the 
Annals,  Loch-Meilghe,  from  Meilghe,  king  of 
Ireland,  A.  M.  4678.  Adrivale  in  the  parish  of 
Drishane,  Cork,  Eadar-ghabhal,  a  place  between  (the 
prongs  of)  a  fork,  i.  e.  a  fork  formed  by  rivers. 

The  change  of  th  to  f  is  often  met  with  ;  but 
it  is  really  a  change  from  the  sound  of  English  h 
(which  is  equal  to  Irish  th)  to  that  of  /.  The 
parish  of  Tiscofiin  in  Kilkenny  took  its  name  from 
an  <  Id  church  called  Tiah-Scoithin  [Tee-scoheen]  i.e. 

CHAP,  in.]  Corruptions.  56 

Scoithin's  house  ;  St.  Scoithin  was  a  relative  of  St. 
Ailbe  of  Emly,  and  erected  his  primitive  ch/arch 
here  towards  the  close  of  the  sixth  century  (see 
O'Clery's  Gal.  2nd  Jan.,  and  Colgan,  A.  SS.,  p.  9). 
Cloonascoffagh  in  the  parish  of  Kilmacshalgan, 
Sligo,  cluain-na-scothach,  the  meadow  of  the  flowers. 
In  accordance  with  the  same  law,  a  sruthdn  or 
streamlet,  is  often  called  sruffane;  and  this  is 
almost  always  the  case  in  some  of  the  western 
counties,  as  in  Ballintrofaun  in  Sligo,  Baik-an- 
tsrothain,  the  town  of  the  streamlet.  Enniscorthy 
in  Wexf  ord  is  generally  called  by  the  peasantry  of 
the  neighbourhood  Enniscorfy ;  and  John  Dymmok 
(about  1600  A.D.),  writes  it  Ennerscorfy  ;  it  may 
be  doubted  whether  this  is  not  a  genuine  change 
of  English  th  to/. 

The  greater  number  of  the  alterations  noticed 
under  this  heading  are  attributable  to  the  English 
language  ;  but  there  are  several  instances  of  words 
and  names  corrupted  similarly  by  the  speakers  of 
Irish.  For  example,  the  word  chuaidh  (past  tense 
of  the  verb  teidh,  go),  is  pronounced  foo  in  the 
fiouth  ;  and  O'Donovan,  in  one  of  his  Derry  letters, 
informs  us  that  magh,  a  plain,  is  there  pronounced 
in  Irish  "  something  between  mugh  and  muff" 
thereby  facilitating  or  suggesting  its  conversion 
into  the  present  name,  Muff. 

Anyone  who  had  studied  the  English  language 
and  its  letter-changes  might,  however,  anticipate 
that  the  Irish  gutturals  would  sometimes  be  con- 
verted into  English/.  Words  transplanted  directly 
from  Irish,  as  might  be  expected,  conform  in  many 
instances  to  the  letter-changing  laws  of  the  Eng- 
lish language ;  of  which  names  beginning  with  the 
word  knock  may  be  taken  as  an  illustration.  In 
such  English  words  as  "knight,"  "  knife,"  "  knee," 
&c.,  the  k  sound  is  now  entirely  omitted  in  pro- 

56  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.       [PART  i. 

nunciation ;  but  in  the  Anglo-Saxon  originals 
cnight,  cnif,  cneow,  both  letters — the  c  hard  and  the 
n — were  pronounced  (Max  Miiller,  "Lectures,"  2nd 
Series,  p.  186).  The  Irish  cnoc  is  subjected  to  the 
same  law;  for  while  both  letters  are  heard  in  Irish, 
the  anglicised  form  knock  is  always  pronounced 

There  is  a  similar  compliance  with  English  cus- 
tom in  the  change  of  the  Irish  gutturals  to/.  The 
English  language,  though  it  has  now  no  gutturals, 
once  abounded  in  them,  and  in  a  numerous  class 
of  words  the  guttural  letters  are  still  retained  in 
writing,  as  in  daughter,  laughter,  night,  straight, 
plough,  &c.  While  in  many  such  words  the  sound 
of  the  gutturals  was  wholly  suppressed,  in  others 
it  was  changed  to  tH  sound  of  /,  as  in  trough, 
draught,  cough,  rough.  &c.  It  is  curious  that  the 
struggle  between  these  two  sounds  has  not  yet 
quite  terminated ;  it  is  continued  to  the  present 
day  in  Scotland  and  the  north  of  Ireland,  where 
the  peasantry  still  pronounce  such  words  with  the 
full  strong  guttural. 

It  will  be  seen,  then,  that  when  the  Irish  gut- 
turals are  corrupted  to  f,  the  change  is  made,  not 
by  accident  or  caprice,  but  in  conformity  with  a 
custom  already  existing  in  the  English  language. 

III.  Interchange  of  d  and  g. — The  letters  d  and 
g  when  aspirated  (dh  and  gh],  are  sounded  exactly 
alike,  so  that  it  is  impossible  to  distinguish  them 
in  speaking.  This  circumstance  causes  them  to  be, 
to  some  extent,  confounded  one  with  the  other  ;  in 
modern  Irish,  gh  is  very  generally  substituted  for 
the  older  dh.  In  topographical  names,  this  aspir- 
ated g  is  often  hardened  or  restored  (after  the  man- 
ner shown  at  page  43) ;  and  thus  many  names  have 
been  corrupted  both  in  writing  and  pronuncia- 
tion, by  the  substitution  of  g  for  dh.  But  as  far 

CHAP,  in.]  Corruptions.  57 

as  I  have  examined,  I  find  only  one  example  of  the 
reverse — d  for  gh. 

There  are  four  townlands  called  Gargrim  in  the 
counties  of  Donegal,  Fermanagh,  Leitrim,  and  Ty- 
rone, which  should  have  been  called  Gardrim,  for 
the  Irish  name  is  Gearrdhruim,  i.  e.  short  ridge  or 
hill,  and  it  is  correctly  anglicised  in  Gardrum,  the 
name  of  two  townlands  in  Fermanagh  and  Tyrone. 
In  exactly  the  same  way  was  formed  Fargrim,  the 
name  of  two  townlands,  one  in  Fermanagh,  and 
the  other  in  Leitrim  ;  it  is  in  Irish,  Fardhruim  or 
Fordhruim  (outer  ridge  or  hill),  in  which  form  it 
appears  in  the  Four  Masters  at  A.D.  1153;  in  its 
correct  anglicised  form,  Fardrura,  it  occurs  in  Fer- 
managh and  Westmeath.  Drumgonnelly  in  the 
parish  and  county  of  Louth,  should  have  been 
called  Drumdonnelly,  from  the  Irish  Druim-Dhon- 
ghaile,  the  ridge  or  hill  of  the  Donnellys ;  Sliguff 
in  Carlow,  would  be  more  correctly  anglicised  Sli- 
duff,  the  Irish  name  being  Slighe-dhubh,  black  road  ; 
and  the  townland  of  Rossdagamph  in  the  parish 
of  Inishmacsaint,  Fermanagh,  is  Ros~da-dhamht 
the  promontory  of  the  two  oxen.  It  was  a  mistake 
the  reverse  of  this,  that  gave  their  present  English 
name  to  the  Ox  Mountains  in  Sligo.  The  Irish 
name,  in  all  our  Annals,  is  Sliabh-ghamh  (which 
means  stormy  mountain)  ;  but  the  natives  be- 
lieving it  to  be  Sliabh-dhamh,  i.  e.  the  mountain 
of  the  oxen,  have  perpetuated  the  present  incorrect 

IV.  Interchange  of  b  and  m. — These  letters  are 
often  substituted  one  for  the  other ;  but  so  far  as  I 
have  observed,  the  change  of  b  to  m  occurs  oftener 
than  the  reverse.  The  tendency  to  change  btom 
appears  to  be  greatly  assisted  by  the  grammatical 
law  of  eclipsis  (see  p.  21,  supra)  ;  in  other  words, 
as  the  sound  of  m  is,  in  case  of  eclipsis,  correctly 

58  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.      [PART  i. 

substituted  for  that  of  b,  there  is  a  tendency  to 
inaket  he  same  change  where  there  is  no  eclipsis  at 
all  to  justify  it,  in  which  case  the  change  is  merely 
a  corruption. 

When  the  preposition  a,  signifying  "  in,"  comes 
before  a  noun  beginning  with  b,  the  b  is  then  regu- 
larly eclipsed  by  m  ;  and  this  m  has  in  some  cases 
remained  after  the  preposition  has  been  omitted, 
exactly  as  t  was  retained  in  Turagh  after  the  re- 
moval of  the  article  (see  Turagh,  p.  29,  supra). 
The  name  of  Managher  in,  the  parish  of  Agha- 
dowey  in  Derry,  is  a  good  example  of  this  :  for  it 
is  in  reality  the  same  as  Banagher  (a  place  of  gables 
or  pointed  rocks:  see  Banagher,  further  on). 
When  the  preposition  a  is  used,  the  form  of  ex- 
pression is  a-mBeannchair ,  which  is  pronounced  in 
speaking,  a-managher ;  and  the  omission  of  the 
preposition  left  the  name  as  it  now  stands : — 
Managher.  This  form  of  phrase  is  very  common 
in  the  Irish  language  both  spoken  and  written : 
we  find  it,  for  example,  in.  case  of  this  very  name, 
Beannchair,  in  the  Four  Masters  at  A.D.  1065. 
where  it  is  recorded  that  the  king  of  Ulidia  wai 
killed  atBangor  (Ro  marbhadh  an  ri  a  mBeannchair. 
the  king  was  killed  at  Bangor). 

It  is  curious  that  Stamboul,  the  modern  name 
of  Constantinople,  exhibits  a  complete  parallel  to 
this ;  for  it  appears  that  this  name  is  a  contrac- 
tion of  the  Greek  phrase  "  es  tan  polin,"  i.  e.  "  in 
the  city "  (Rev.  Isaac  Taylor's  "  Words  and 
Places "),  a  phrase  corresponding  with  the  Irish 
a-mBeannchair,  and  the  s  of  the  Greek  preposition 
has  been  retained,  just  as  m  has  been  in  Managher. 

B  is  eclipsed  by  m  in  some  cases  where  it  is 
hard  to  assign  the  eclipsis  to  any  grammatical  rule ; 
as  in  case  of  Cill-mBian  [Kilmean]  mentioned  by 
the  Four  Masters  at  A.D.  583 :  but  here  perhaps 

CHAP,  in.]  Corruptions.  59 

Bian  is  in  the  genitive  plural  (see  p.  21,  supra). 
It  is  evidently  something  like  this  that  takes  pl&ce 
in  the  popular  pronunciation  of  Lisbellaw,  often 
heard  in  the  county  Fermanagh,  viz.  Lismellaw  ; 
which  I  do  not  believe  to  be  a  corruption,  but  the 
correct  phonetic  representative  of  Lios-mbel-atha 
(see  Lisbellaw  further  on) . 

In  Derry  the  word  bo-theach,  cow-house,  which 
should  be  anglicised  boyagh,  is  very  commonly 
made  moyagh.  It  was  evidently  under  the  "same 
influence  that  Emlygrennan,  the  name  of  a  parish 
near  Kilmallock  in  Limerick,  was  corrupted  from 
the  proper  Irish  name,  Bile-Ghroidhnin  [Billa- 
grynin],  Grynan's  bile  or  ancient  tree;  though  here 
the  change  appears  to  have  been  helped  by  a  desire 
to  assimilate  the  name  to  that  of  Emly,  a  well- 
known  place  in  Tipperary,  not  very  far  off. 

Ballybodonnel  in  the  parish  of  Killaghtee  in 
Donegal  (the  town  of  Donnell's  both,  booth  or  tent), 
is  often  locally  pronounced  Ballymodonnell ;  Bally  - 
bofey  in  the  same  county  is  generally  made  Bally  - 
mofey.  Mohercrom,  the  name  of  a  place  near 
Bailieborough  in  Cavan,  is  corrupted  from  Boher- 
crom  (crooked  road),  for  so  it  is  pronounced  by 
the  old  Irish-speaking  natives.  Many  other  ex- 
amples of  this  change  might  be  given. 

The  change  of  m  to  b,  of  which  there  are  some 
undoubted  examples,  is  a  mere  corruption,  not 
admitting  even  partially,  like  the  reverse  change, 
of  any  grammatical  explanation.  Ballymoney,  in 
Antrim,  is  usually  called  Ballyboney  in  early 
Anglo-Irish  records  (Reeves:  Eccl.  Ant.  p.  80, 
note  u),  but  I  am  convinced  that  Ballymoney  is  the 
correct  form  ;  and  the  family  name  O'Amergin  or 
Mergin,  is  now  corruptly  made  Bergin  (O'Donovan : 
Battle  of  Moyr,  p.  290,  note  x).  The  name  of 
Bannady  near  Ballaghaderreen  in  Mayo,  originally 

60  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.       [PART  i. 

began  with  m,  for  the  Four  Masters  write  it  Meann- 
oda.  There  is  a  place  called  Bunnafedia  in  the 
parish  of  Dromard  in  Sligo,  which  is  anglicised 
from  its  present  Irish  name,  Bun-na-fede,  the  mouth 
of  ihefead  or  streamlet  (see  Faddan  further  on). 
Duald  Mac  Firbis,  in  his  Hy  Fiachrach,  writes  the 
name  Bun-fede ;  but  in  a  poem  in  the  Book  of 
Lecan,  written  by  his  ancestor  more  than  200 
years  earlier,  the  place  is  called  Muine-na-fede  (the 
shrubbery  of  the  streamlet) ;  and  as  this  is  no  doubt 
the  original  form,  there  is  here  a  change  from  m 
to  b.  A  change  much  the  same  as  this  occurs  in 
the  name  of  Bunnyconnellan  in  the  parish  of  Kil- 
garvan  in  Mayo,  which  was  corrupted  from  the 
correct  name  Muine-Chonallain  (Conallan's  shrub- 
bery) as  we  find  it  written  by  Mac  Firbis  in  Hy 

Y.  Insertion  oft  between  s  and  r. — The  combina- 
tion  sr  is  one  of  rare  occurrence  in  modern  Euro- 
pean  languages;  there  is  not  a  single  word  in 
English,  French,  German,  Greek,  or  Latin,  begin- 
ning with  it,  though  many  of  their  words  are  un- 
doubtedly derived  from  roots  commencing  with 
these  two  letters. 

The  Irish  language  has  retained  this  combina- 
tion, and  in  the  Irish  dictionaries,  a  considerable 
number  of  words  will  be  found  commencing  with  sr. 
Of  these  there  are  only  four  that  enter  often  into 
topographical  names.  These  are  srdid,  a  street^ 
srath,  a  holm  or  inch — the  lowland  along  a  river; 
sron,  literally  a  nose,  but  in  a  secondary  sense, 
applied  to  points  of  hills,  promontories,  &c. ;  and 
srutft,  a  stream,  with  its  derivatives.  It  was  not 
to  be  expected  that  the  English  language,  which 
within  its  own  domain  does  not  admit  of  the  union 
of  s  and  r,  would  receive  these  names  in  all  cases 
without  alteration.  Of  the  modern  townland  names 

CHAP,  in.]  Corruptions.  61 

containing  the  four  words  just  named,  the  sr  has 
been  retained  in  less  than  half ;  in  about  forty '  or 
fifty,  it  has  been  changed  to  shr,  a  combination 
admitted  in  English ;  and  in  all  the  rest  it  has 
been  corrupted  by  the  insertion  of  a  t. 

There  are  about  170  modern  names  commen- 
cing with  sir,  and  many  more  containing  these 
letters  intermediate.  In  all  these,  with  hardly  an 
exception,  the  t  is  a  late  insertion  ;  for  although 
we  have  words  in  Irish  beginning  with  sir,  there 
are  no  names  derived  from  them,  except  perhaps 
about  half  a  dozen.  The  insertion  of  a  t  is  one  of 
the  expedients  for  avoiding  the  combination  sr, 
which  is  found  in  several  languages,  and  which 
has  been  in  operation  from  the  earliest  times.  We 
find  it,  for  instance,  in  the  O.  H.  German  stroum 
(Eng.  stream),  and  in  the  name  of  the  well-known 
Thracian  river  Strymon,  both  of  which  are  de- 
rived from  a  Sanscrit  root,  sru,  meaning  to  flow* 

A  few  names  will  illustrate  these  remarks.  In 
Srugreana  near  Caherciveen,  Kerry  (Sruth-grea- 
nach,  gravelly  stream),  and  in  Srananny  in 
parish  of  Donagh,  Monaghan  (Srath-an-eanaigh 
[Srahananny],  the  strath  or  holm  of  the  marsh), 
the  initial  sr  has  been  retained.  It  has  been 
changed  to  shr  in  Shrough,  near  Tipperary,  from 
sruth,  a  stream ;  and  also  in  Shronedarragh,  near 
Killarney,  the  nose  or  point  of  the  oak. 

In  the  following  names,  a  t  has  been  inserted: — 
Strancally,  above  Youghal,  the  well-known  seat 
of  the  Desmonds ;  whose  castle,  now  in  ruins,  was 
built  on  a  point  of  rock  jutting  into  the  Black- 
water,  called  Srbn-caillighe  (Shronekally :  Surv. 
1584),  the  hag's  nose  or  promontory.  Ardstraw 
in  Tyrone,  which  the  annal  sts  write  Ard-sratha 

«  See  Dr.  Whitley  Stokes'  "  Irish  Glosses  ; "  and  Dr.  W.  K. 
Sullivan's  Translation  of  Ebel's  ' '  Celtic  Studies." 

62  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.       [PART  i. 

[Ard-sraha] ,  the  height  of  (or  near)  the  river 
holm ;  Stradone  in  Cavan,  and  Stradowan  in 
Tyrone,  deep  srath  or  holm. 

This  corruption — the  insertion  of  t — is  found 
more  or  less  all  over  Ireland,  but  it  prevails  more 
in  the  northern  counties  than  anywhere  else.  In 
Ulster,  the  combination  sr  is  scarcely  admitted  at 
all ;  for  out  of  about  170  townland  names  in  all 
Ireland,  beginning  with  these  two  letters,  there 
are  only  twelve  in  this  province,  and  these  are 
wholly  confined  to  Donegal,  Fermanagh,  and 

VI.  Addition  ofd.  after  n,  1,  andr\  and  o/b  after 
m. — The  most  extensive  agency  in  corrupting  lan- 
guage is  contraction,  i.  e.  the  omission  of  letters ; 
first,  in  pronunciation,  and  afterwards  in  writing. 
This  is  what  Max  Miiller  calls  phonetic  decay,  and 
he  shows  that  it  results  from  a  deficiency  of  mus- 
cular energy  in  pronunciation,  in  other  words,  from 
laziness.  There  are  cases,  however,  in  which  this 
principle  seems  to  be  reversed,  that  is,  in  which 
words  are  corrupted  by  the  addition  of  anomalous 
letters.  In  English,  for  instance,  a  d  is  often  added 
after  n,  and  in  Greek,  after  both  n  and  /;  as  in  Eng. 
thunder  from  Ang.  Sax.  thunor  ;  cinder  from  Lat. 
(cinis)  cineris,  &c. ;  and  in  Gr.  aner,  gen.  androsr  &c. 
This  tendency  in  English  is  also  noticed  by  Lhuyd 
in  his  "  Archaeologia"  (p.  9).  Another  corruption 
similar  to  this,  which  is  found  in  several  languages, 
is  the  addition  of  b  after  m  ;  as  in  Eng.  slumber  from 
Ang.  Sax.  slumerian  ;  Fr.  nombre  from  numerus ; 
Lat.  comburo  from  com  (con),  and  uro ;  Gr.  gambros 
for  gamros,  &c.  Max  Miiller  shows,  however,  that 
the  insertion  of  these  letters  is  due  to  the  same 
laziness  in  pronunciation  that  causes  omission  in 
other  cases.* 

*  See  Max  Miiller's  "  Lectures,"  2nd  Series,  p.  178. 

CHAP,  in.]  Corruptions.  63 

These  corruptions  are  very  frequent  in  Irish 
names,  viz.,  the  letter  d  is  often  placed  after  n 
and  /,  and  sometimes  after  r  ;  and  the  letter  b  after 
m.  In  the  following  names  the  of  is  a  mere  excre- 
scence, and  has  been  added  in  recent  times  :  Terry- 
land  near  Galway,  which  the  Four  Masters  write 
Tir-oilein,  the  district  of  the  island ;  Killashandra 
in  Cavan  is  in  Irish  Cill-a'-sean-ratha,  the  church 
of  the  old  rath,  and  it  was  so  called  because  the 
original  church  was  built  within  the  inclosure  oi 
an  ancient  rath  which  still  exists  ;  Rathfryland  in 
Down  is  from  Rath-Fraeileann,  Freelan's  rath; 
Tullyland  in  parish  of  Ballinadee,  Cork,  Tulaigh- 
Eileain,  Helena's  hill. 

D  is  added  after  /  in  the  word  "  field,"  when  this 
word  is  an  anglicised  form  of  coill,  a  wood,  as  in 
Longfield,  Cranfield,  &c.,  which  names  have  been 
examined  at  page  39.  The  same  corruption  is  found 
in  the  ancient  Welsh  personal  name,  Gildas,  and 
in  the  Irish  name  Mac  Donald,  which  are  more 
correctly  written  Gillas  and  Macdonnell. 

Lastly,  d  is  placed  after  r  in  Lifford,  which  is  in 
j  Irish  Leithbhearr  (Four  Mast- ) ;  this  is  a  compa- 
ratively modern  corruption ;  for  Spencer,  in  his 
"  View  of  the  State  of  Ireland,"  calls  it  Castle- 
liffer.  It  is  to  be  observed  that  this  adventitious 
d  is  placed  after  n  much  oftener  than  after  the 
other  two  letters,  /  and  r. 

The  addition  of  b  to  m  occurs  only  seldom ;  we 
find  it  in  Cumber  or  Comber,  which  is  the  name  of  a 
town  in  county  Down,  and  of  several  townlands  in 
different  counties,  both  singly  and  in  composition. 
It  is  the  Irish  comar,  the  confluence  of  two  waters, 
and  it  is  correctly  anglicised  Cummer  and  Comer 
in  many  other  places. 

All  these  changes  were  made  in  English,  but  in 
the  Irish  language  there  w<is  once  a  strong  ten- 

64  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.      [PART  I. 

dency  in  the  same  direction.  In  what  is  called 
middle  Irish  (from  the  10th  to  the  15th  century), 
and  often  also  in  old  Irish,  the  custom  was  very 
general  of  using  nd  for  nn.  For  instance,  the 
word  cenn  (a  head)  is  cited  in  this  form  by  Zeuss 
from  MSS.  of  the  eighth  century  ;  but  in  middle 
Irish  MSS.  it  is  usually  written  cend.  In  all  such 
words,  however,  the  proper  termination  is  restored 
in  modern  Irish ;  and  so  strong  was  this  counter- 
current,  that  the  d  was  swept  away  not  only  from 
words  into  which  it  was  incorrectly  introduced, 
but  also  from  those  to  which  it  properly  and  radi- 
cally belonged.  For  example,  the  middle  Irish 
word  Aiffrend  (the  Mass)  is  spelled  correctly  with 
a  dy  for  it  is  derived  from  Lat.  offerenda ;  but  in 
modern  Irish  it  is  always  spelled  and  pronounced 

Some  of  the  words  and  names  cited  under  this 
section  afford  a  curious  example  of  the  fickleness 
of  phonetic  change,  and,  at  the  same  time,  of  the 
regularity  of  its  action.  We  find  words  spelled  in 
old  Irish  with  nn ;  in  middle  Irish,  a  d  is  intro- 
duced, and  the  nn  becomes  nd;  in  modern  Irish 
the  d  is  rejected,  and  there  is  a  return  to  the  old 
Irish  nn ;  and  in  modern  anglicised  names,  the  d 
is  reinstated,  and  nd  seems  to  remain  in  final  pos- 
session of  the  field. 

There  is  a  corruption  peculiar  to  the  northern 
and  north-western  counties,  which  is  very  similar 
to  the  one  now  under  consideration,  namely,  the 
sound  of  aspirated  m  (wA=Eng.  v)  is  often  repre- 
sented in  the  present  names  by  mph.  This  mode 
of  spelling  is  probably  an  attempt  to  represent  the 
half  nasal,  half  labial-aspirate  sound  of  mh,  which 
an  ear  unaccustomed  to  Irish  finds  it  very  difficult 
to  catch.  Under  the  influence  of  this  custom 
damh,  an  ox,  is  converted  into  damph,  as  in  Derry 

CHAP,  in.]  Conniptions.  65 

damph  in  the  parish  of  Knockbride,  Cavan,  Do^re- 
damh,  the  oak- grove  of  the  oxen ;  creamh,  wild 
garlic,  is  made  cramph,  as  in  Annacramph  in  the 
parish  of  Grange,  Armagh,  Eanach-  creamha,  wild 
garlic  marsh.* 

VII.  The  letter  s  prefixed. — The  Irish  word 
teach  or  tigh,  a  house  or  church,  as  I  shall  show 
elsewhere,  enters  extensively  into  topographical 
names  all  over  Ireland,  in  the  anglicised  forms  of 
ta,  tagh,  tee,  ti,  ty,  &c.  In  some  of  the  eastern 
counties  this  word  is  liable  to  a  singular  corrup- 
tion, viz.,  the  Irish  ta  or  ti  is  converted  into  sta  or 
sti,  in  a  considerable  number  of  names,  of  which 
the  following  are  examples.  Stillorgan  is  in  Irish 
Tigh-Lorcain  [Teelorkan],  Lorcan's  church ;  and 
it  may  have  received  its  name  from  a  church 
founded  by  St.  Lorcan  or  Laurence  O'Toole, 
Archbishop  of  Dublin  at  the  time  of  the  English 
invasion;  Stabannon  in  Louth,  ought  to  be  Ta- 
bannon,  Banon's  house ;  Stackallan  in  Meath,  is 
written  Teach-collain,  by  the  Four  Masters,  i.  e. 
Collan's  house.  So  also  Stirue  in  Louth,  red 
house  ;  Stapolin  near  Baldoyle,  Dublin,  the  house 
of  Paulin,  or  little  Paul ;  and  Stalleen  near  Donore 
above  Drogheda,  is  called  in  the  Charter  of  Melli- 
font,  granted  by  King  John  in  1185-6,  Teachlenni, 
i.  e.  Lenne's  house. 

This  corruption  is  almost  confined  to  the  counties 
of  Dublin,  Meath,  and  Louth ;  I  can  find  only  very 
few  examples  outside  these  counties,  among  which 
are,  the  parish  of  Stacumny  in  Kildare,  Stakally 
in  the  parish  of  Powerstown,  Kilkenny,  and 
Tyrella  in  Down,  which  is  called  in  the  well-known 

*  For  full  information  on  the  subject  of  letter  changes  in 
various  languages,  see  Max  Miiller's  most  interesting  lecture 
on  "  I'honetic  Change  "  (Lectures  on  the  Science  of  Language  , 
Second  Series). 

VOL.  1.  6 

66  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [PART  I. 

Taxation  (1306),  published  by  Dr.  Reeves,  Stagh- 
reel.  But  its  Irish  name  is  Tech-Riaghla  [Tahreela  : 
O'C.  Cal.],  the  house  of  St.  Riaghal  or  Regulus, 
who  is  commemorated  on  17th  Sept.  There  are 
altogether  in  Dublin,  Heath,  and  Louth,  about 
twenty- three  names  which  commenced  originally 
with  Ta  or  Ti,  in  about  two-thirds  of  which  it  has 
become  Sta  or  Sti. 

The  Irish  word  leacht,  a  sepulchral  monument, 
is  also,  in  some  of  the  Ulster  counties,  corrupted 
by  prefixing  an  « ;  for  example,  Slaghtneill  and 
Slaghtmanus,  both  in  Londonderry,  ought  to  be 
Laghtneill  and  Laghtmanus,  signifying  respec- 
tively Niall's  and  Manus's  monument;  and  we 
also  find  Slaghtfreeden,  Slaghtybogy,  and  a  few 

This  corruption  is  met  with  in  connection  with 
a  few  other  words,  as  in  case  of  Slyne  Head 
(which  see  further  on) :  but  it  is  far  more  frequent 
in  the  two  preceding  words  than  in  any  other, 
and  more  common  in  teach  than  in  leacht. 

It  will  be  recollected  that  all  the  corruptions 
hitherto  noticed  were  found  capable  of  explana- 
tion, on  some  previously  established  principle  of 
language :  the  reason  of  the  alteration  now  under 
consideration,  however,  is  not  so  evident.  In  case 
of  the  conversion  of  ta  and  ti  into  sta  and  sti,  I 
would  suggest  the  following  as  the  probable  ex- 
planation. The  fact  that  this  peculiarity  is  almost 
confined  to  Dublin,  Meath,  and  Louth,  renders  it 
not  unlikely  that  it  is  a  Danish  corruption.  In  all 
the  northern  languages  there  are  whole  classes  of 
words  commencing  with  st,  which  mean  habita- 
tion, place,  &c.  For  example,  Ang.  Sax.  stow,  a 
dwelling-place,  a  habitation;  stede,  a  place,  a 
station ;  Danish,  sted,  locus,  tkjdes ;  stad,  urbs, 
oppidum ;  stede,  statio ;  Icelandic,  stadr,  statio, 

HAP.  in.]  Corruptions.  67 

urbs,  oppidum ;  stofa,  curta  domus ;  sto,  static. 
And  I  may  add,  that  in  Iceland,  Norway, 
and  other  northern  countries,  several  of  these 
words  are  extensively  used  in  the  formation  of 
names  of  places ;  of  which  anyone  may  satisfy 
himself  by  only  looking  over  a  map  of  one  of 
these  countries. 

It  appears  to  me,  then,  sufficiently  natural  that 
the  northern  settlers  should  convert  the  Irish  ta 
and  ti  into  their  own  significant  sta  and  sti.  The 
change  was  sufficiently  marked  in  character  to 
assimilate  to  some  extent  the  names  to  their  own 
familiar  local  nomenclature,  while  the  alteration 
t,f  form  was  so  slight,  that  the  words  still  remained 
quite  intelligible  to  the  Irish  population.  It  would 
appear  more  natural  to  a  Dane  to  say  Stabannon 
(meaning  Bannon's  house)  than  Tabannon ;  and 
an  Irishman  would  understand  quite  well  what 
he  meant. 

This  opinion  is  further  supported  by  these  two 
well-known  facts :  first,  many  places  on  the  eastern 
coast  have  Danish  names,  as  Waterford,  Leixlip, 
Howth,  Ireland's  Eye,  &c. ;  and  secondly,  the 
Danes  frequently  changed  the  Irish  inis,  an  island, 
into  their  own  equivalent  word,  ey,  as  in  the  last- 
mentioned  name.  If  it  be  objected  that  Tabannon 
could  not  be  converted  on  this  principle  into 
Stabannon,  because  the  northern  method  of  form 
ing  such  names  is  to  place  the  limiting  term  first, 
not  last,  as  in  Irish  (for  instance,  the  Irish  order 
is  Sta-bannon,  but  the  northern  Bannon-sta] ;  il 
may  be  answered  that,  in  anglicising  Irish  names, 
it  is  very  usual  to  convert  each  part  of  a  compound 
wholly  or  partly  into  an  English  word,  leaving 
the  whole  at  the  same  time  in  the  original  Irish 
order ;  as,  for  instance,  Batter  John,  Castledonovan, 
Downpatrick,  Port  Stewart,  &c ,  in  which  the 

68  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.      [PART  i 

proper  English  order  would  be  John's  Batter. 
Donovan's  Castle,  &c. 

It  is  only  fair  to  state,  however,  that  Worsae 
does  not  notice  this  corruption,  though  in  his 
"Account  of  the  Danes  and  Norwegians  in 
England,  Scotland,  and  Ireland,"  he  has  collected 
every  vestige  he  could  find  of  the  Danish  rule  in 
these  countries. 

Notwithstanding  the  variety  of  disturbing 
causes,  and  the  great  number  of  individual  names 
affected  by  each,  only  a  small  proportion  of  the 
whole  are  corrupted,  the  great  majority  being, 
as  already  stated,  anglicised  correctly,  or  nearly 
so.  When  it  is  considered  that  there  are  more 
than  60,000  townlands  in  Ireland,  and  when  to 
the  names  of  these  are  added  the  countless  names 
of  rivers,  lakes,  mountains,  &c.,  it  will  be  seen 
that  even  a  small  fraction  of  all  will  form  a  num- 
ber large  enough  to  give  sufficient  play  to  all  the 
corrupting  influences  enumerated  in  this  chapter. 

I  have  now  examined,  in  this  and  the  preceding 
chapter,  seventeen  different  sources  of  change  in 
Irish  names ;  and  I  have  selected  these,  because 
they  are  the  most  striking  and  important,  as  well 
as  the  most  extensive  in  their  influence.  There 
are  other  letter  changes  of  a  less  violent  character, 
such  as  those  caused  by  metathesis,  &c.,  which  I 
have  not  thought  sufficiently  important  to  notice. 
The  interchange  of  hard  and  soft  mutes  (or  tenues 
and  medice]  is  extremely  common ;  but  this,  too, 
as  not  causing  considerable  obscuration  of  the 
names,  I  shall  dismiss  with  a  single  remark.  In 
the  formation  of  anglicised  names  from  Irish,  the 
change  from  hard  to  soft  is  comparatively  rare, 
while  the  reverse  occurs  very  frequently.  Dulane 
near  Kells  is  an  example  of  the  former,  its  ancient 
name,  as  spelled  by  the  Four  Masters,  being  Tuilen 

CHAP,  iv.]  False  Etymologies.  69 

or  Tuldn,  i.e.  the  little  tul  or  hill ;  as  examples 
of  the  latter,  it  will  be  sufficient  to  mention  the 
frequent  change  of  dubh  (black)  to  duff,  garbh 
(rough),  to  gariff,  carraig  (a  rock)  to  carrick,  &c., 
in  the  two  former  of  which  the  sound  of  v  is  con- 
verted to  that  of  /,  and  in  the  last,  the  sound  of 
g  (in  got]  is  changed  to  that  of  k.  There  are  also 
corruptions  of  an  exceptional  and  unexpected 
character,  which  1  have  not  been  able  to  reduce 
to  any  principle ;  but  I  shall  not  dwell  on  them, 
as  the  object  of  these  chapters  is  not  so  much  the 
examination  of  individual  names  as  the  develop- 
ment of  general  laws. 



IN  no  department  of  Irish  antiquities  have  writers 
indulged  to  such  an  extent  in  vague  and  useless 
conjecture  as  in  the  interpretation  of  local  names. 
Our  county  histories,  topographical  dictionaries, 
tourists'  handbooks,  &c.,  abound  in  local  etymo- 
logies ;  but,  if  we  leave  out  of  the  question  a  few 
topographical  works  lately  published,  it  may  be 
safely  asserted  that  these  interpretations  are, 
generally  speaking,  false,  and  a  large  proportion 
of  them  inexpressibly  silly.  Instead  of  seeking 
out  the  ancient  forms  of  the  names,  in  authentic 
Irish  documents,  which  in  many  cases  a  small 
amount  of  inquiry  would  enable  them  to  do,  or 
ascertaining  the  pronunciation  from  natives, 
writers  of  this  class,  ignoring  both  authority  and 
analogy,  either  take  the  names  as  they  stand  in 
English,  or  invent  original  forms  that  they  never 

70  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [PARTI. 

had,  and  interpret  them,  each  according  to  his 
own  fancy,  or  to  lend  plausibility  to  some  favourite 

There  are  laws  and  method  in  etymology,  as 
well  as  in  other  sciences,  and  I  have  set  forth  in 
the  three  preceding  chapters  the  principles  by 
which  an  inquirer  must  be  guided  in  the  present 
branch  of  the  subject.  But  when  we  see  men 
pronouncing  confidently  on  questions  of  Irish 
etymology,  who  not  only  have  no  knowledge  of 
these  principles,  but  who  are  totally  unacquainted 
with  the  Irish  language  itself,  we  cannot  wonder 
that  their  conjectures  regarding  the  signification 
of  Irish  names  are  usually  nothing  better  than 
idle  and  worthless  guesses. 

The  first  who  to  any  extent  made  use  of  the 
etymology  of  Irish  names,  as  an  instrument  of 
historical  investigation,  was  Vallancey.  He  built 
whole  theories  regarding  the  social  condition  and 
religious  belief  of  the  early  inhabitants  of  Ireland, 
chiefly  on  false  etymologies :  but  his  system  has 
been  long  exploded,  and  no  one  would  now  think 
of  either  quoting  or  refuting  his  fanciful  conjec- 
tures. He  was  succeeded  by  a  host  of  followers, 
who  in  their  literary  speculations  seem  to  have 
lost  every  vestige  of  judgment  and  common  sense; 
and  the  race,  though  fast  dying  out  under  the 
broad  sunlight  of  modern  scholarship,  is  not  yet 
quite  extinct.  I  shall  not  notice  their  etymologi- 
cal fancies  through  this  book,  for  indeed  they  are 
generally  quite  beneath  notice,  but  I  shall  bring 
together  in  the  present  chapter  a  few  characteristic 

In  Ferguson's  "  River  Names  of  Europe,"  there 
are  near  fifty  Irish  names,  whose  meanings  are 
discussed.  Of  these,  a  few  are  undoubtedly  correct ; 
there  are  about  twenty  on  which  I  am  not  able  to 

CHAP.  iv.  J  False  Etymofogies.  71 

offer  an  opinion,  as  I  know  nothing  certain  of 
their  etymology,  and  the  author's  conjectures' are 
far  more  likely  to  be  wrong  than  right,  for  they 
are  founded  on  the  modern  forms  of  the  names. 
A  full  half  are  certainly  wrong,  and  of  these  one 
example  will  be  sufficient.  The  name  Nenagh 
(river)  is  derived  from  Sansc.  ni,  to  move,  Gael. 
nigh,  to  wash  ;  but  a  little  inquiry  will  enable 
anyone  to  see  that  Nenagh  is  not  the  name  of  the 
river  at  all,  but  of  the  town  ;  and  that  even  if  it 
were,  it  could  not  be  derived  from  any  root  be- 
ginning with  n,  since  the  original  name  is  Aenach, 
the  initial  n  being  merely  the  Irish  article.  The 
real  name  of  the  river,  which  is  now  almost  for- 
gotten, is  Owen  O'Coffey,  the  river  of  the 
O'Coffeys,  the  family  who  anciently  inhabited  the 
district.  (See  Nenagh,  farther  on.) 

In  Gibson's  Etymological  Geography,  a  con- 
siderable number  of  Irish  names  are  explained  ; 
but  the  author  was  very  careful  to  instance  those 
only  whose  meanings  are  obvious,  and  consequently 
he  is  generally  right.  Yet  he  calls  Inishbofin  off 
the  coast  of  Mayo,  Inishbosine,  and  interprets  it 
Easiness  island  !  and  he  confounds  Inishcourcy  in 
Down  with  Enniscorthy  in  Wexford,  besides 
giving  an  erroneous  etymology  for  both. 

The  Rev.  Isaac  Taylor,  who  also  deals  frequently 
with  Irish  names,  in  a  work  of  great  ability, 
"  Words  and  Places,"  is  more  cautious  than  either. 
But  even  he  sometimes  falls  into  the  same  error  ; 
for  instance,  he  takes  Armagh  as  «2  stands,  and 
derives  it  from  the  preposition  ar  (on),  and  magh 
(a  plain),  though  among  the  whole  range  of  Irish 
names  there  is  scarcely  one  whose  original  form 
(Ard-Macha]  is  better  known  (see  p.  77,  infra}. 

There  is  a  parish  near  Downpatrick,  taking  its 
name  from  an  old  church,  now  called  Inch,  i.e.  the 

72  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.       [PART  I. 

island,  because  it  was  built  on  a  small  island  or 
peninsula,  on  the  west  side  of  Strangford  Lough. 
The  full  name  is  Inishcourcy ;  and  as  it  is  a  his- 
torical fact  that  an  abbey  was  founded  there  by 
John  de  Courcy  about  the  year  1180,  it  is  not  to 
be  wondered  at  that  Harris  (in  his  History  of 
Down),  and  Archdall,  fell  into  the  error  of  believ- 
ing that  the  name  was  derived  from  him.  But  an 
earlier  monastery  existed  there,  called  Inis-Cumh- 
scraigh  [Inishcooscry],  Cooscragh's  island,  long 
before  John  de  Courcy  was  born  ;  and  this  name 
was  gradually  corrupted  to  Inishcourcy,  both  on 
account  of  the  curious  similarity  of  sound,  and  of 
that  chiefs  connection  with  the  place. 

All  this  will  be  rendered  evident  by  reference 
to  the  Annals.  We  find  it  recorded  in  the  Four 
Masters  that  in  1001  "  Sitric  son  of  Amlaff  set 
out  on  a  predatory  excursion  into  Ulidia  in  his 
ships;  and  plundered  Kilclief  and  Inis-Cumh- 
scraigh ;  "  and  Tighernach,  who  died  in  1088,  re- 
cords the  same  event.  Moreover,  Hugh  Maglanha, 
abbot  of  Inis-cumhscraigh,  was  one  of  those  who 
signed  the  Charter  of  Newry,  a  document  of  about 
the  year  1160. 

Dr.  Reeves  has  conjectured,  what  is  highly 
probable,  that  the  person  who  gave  name  to  this 
place  was  Cumhscrach,  one  of  the  sons  of  Conor 
Mac  Nessa,  who  succeeded  his  father  as  king  of 
Ulster  in  the  first  century. 

It  has  been  said  by  a  philosopher  that  words 
govern  men,  and  we  have  an  excellent  example  of 
this  in  the  name  of  the  Black  Valley,  near  Killar- 
ney.  Many  of  our  guide-books,  and  tourists  with- 
out number,  desciibe  it  as  something  wonderful 
in  its  excessive  blackness  ;  and  among  them  is  one 
^ell-known  writer,  who,  if  we  are  to  judge  by  his 
description,  either  never  saw  it  at  all,  or  wrote 
from  memory. 

CHAP,  iv.]  False  Etymologies.  73 

It  may  be  admitted  that  the  direction  of  this 
valley  with  regard  to  the  sun,  at  the  time  of  clay 
when  visitors  generally  see  it,  has  some  influence 
in  rendering  the  view  of  it  indistinct ;  but  it  cer- 
tainly is  not  blacker  than  many  other  valleys 
among  the  Killarney  mountains ;  and  the  ima- 
gination of  tourists  is  led  captive,  and  they  are 
betrayed  into  these  descriptions  of  its  gloominess, 
because  it  has  been  called  the  Black  Valley,  which 
is  not  its  name  at  all. 

The  variety  of  ways  in  which  the  original  ia 
spelled  by  different  writers — Coomdhuv,  Cooma- 
dhuv,  Coomydhuv,  Cummeendhuv,  &c. — might 
lead  anyone  to  suspect  that  there  was  something- 
wrong  in  the  translation  ;  whereas,  if  it  were  in- 
tended for  black  valley,  it  would  be  Coomdhuv, 
and  nothing  else.  To  an  Irish  scholar,  the  'pro- 
nunciation of  the  natives  makes  the  matter  per- 
fectly clear ;  and  I  almost  regret  being  obliged  to 
give  it  a  much  less  poetical  interpretation.  They 
invariably  call  it  Coom-ee-wiv*  (this  perfectly  re- 
presents the  pronunciation,  except  only  the  w, 
where  there  is  a  soft  guttural  that  does  not  exist 
in  English),  which  will  be  recognised  as  Ciim-ui- 
Dhuibh,  O'Duff's  vaUey.  Who  this  O'Duff  was, 
I  have  not  been  able  to  ascertain. 

Clonmacnoise  is  usually  written  in  the  later 
Annals  Cluain-mic-Nois,  which  has  been  trans- 
lated, and  is  very  generally  believed  to  mean, 
"  the  retreat  of  the  sons  of  the  noble,"  a  name 
which  it  was  thought  to  have  received,  either  be- 
cause the  place  was  much  frequented  by  the 

*  The  popular  pronunciation  is  also  preserved  in  a  slightly 
different  form  by  the  writer  of  a  poem  in  the  "  Kerry  Maga- 
zine," vol.  i.  p.  24  : — 

"  And  there  the  rocks  that  lordly  towered  above  ; 
And  there  the  shady  vale  of  Coomewove." 

74  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [PART  I. 

nobility  as  a  retirement  in  their  old  age,  or 
because  it  was  the  burial-place  of  so  many  kings 
and  chiefs.  But  this  guess  could  never  be  made 
by  anyone  having  the  least  knowledge  of  Irish, 
for  in  the  original  name  the  last  two  S}rllables  are 
in  the  genitive  singular,  not  in  the  genitive  plural. 
JVos  (gen.  nois),  indeed,  means  noble,  but  here  it 
is  the  name  of  a  person,  who  is  historically  known, 
and  Cluain-mic-Nois  means  the  meadow  of  the  son 
of  Nos. 

Though  the  Irish  name  given  above  is  generally 
used  by  the  Four  Masters,  yet  at  1461  they  call 
the  place  Cluain-muc-Nois-mic-Fiadaigh,  by  which 
it  appears  that  this  Nos's  father  was  Fiadhach 
[Feeagh],  who  was  a  chief  belonging  to  the  tribe 
of  the  Dealbhna-Eathra  (now  the  barony  of  Garry- 
castle  in  King's  County),  in  whose  territory  Clon- 
macnoise  was  situated.  Cluain-muc-Nois  would 
signify  the  meadow  of  Nos's  pigs;  but  though 
this  form  is  used  by  Colgan  in  the  Tripartite  Life, 
the  correct  original  appears  to  be  Cluain-maccu- 
Nois,  for  it  is  so  written  in  the  older  Annals,  and 
in  the  Carlsruhe  Manuscript  of  Zeuss,  which  is 
the  most  ancient,  and  no  doubt  the  most  trust- 
worthy authority  of  all :  this  last  signifies  the 
meadow  of  the  sons  of  Nos. 

Askeaton  in  Limerick  is  transformed  to  Eas- 
cead-tinne,  in  a  well-known  modern  topographical 
work  on  Ireland :  the  writer  explains  it  "  the 
cataract  of  the  hundred  fires,"  and  adds,  "  the 
fires  were  probably  some  way  connected  with  the 
ritual  of  the  Druids,  the  ancient  Irish  Guebres." 
The  name,  however,  as  we  find  it  in  many  Irish 
authorities,  is  Eas-Gephtine,  which  simply  means 
the  cataract  of  Gephtine,  some  old  pagan  chief. 
The  cataract  is  where  the  Deel  falls  over  a  ledge 
of  rocks  near  the  town. 

CHAP,  iv.]  Fake  Etymologies.  75 

I  may  remark  here  that  great  numbers  of  thetee 
fanciful  derivations  were  invented  to  prove  that 
the  ancient  Irish  worshipped  fire.  In  order  to 
show  that  the  round  tower  of  Balla,  in  Mayo,  was 
a  fire  temple,  Vallancey  changes  the  name  to 
Beilagh,  which  he  interprets  "  the  fire  of  fires." 
But  in  the  Life  of  St.  Mochua,  the  founder,  pub- 
lished by  Colgan  (at  the  30th  of  March),  we  are 
told  that  before  the  saint  founded  his  monastery 
there,  in  the  beginning  of  the  seventh  century, 
the  place  was  called  Ros-dairbhreach,  i.e.  oak- 
grove  ;  that  he  enclosed  the  wells  of  his  religious 
establishment  with  a  "balla"  or  wall  (a  practice 
common  among  the  early  Irish  saints) ;  and  that 
"hence  the  town  received  the  new  name  Balla, 
and  Mochua  himself  became  known  by  the  cog- 
nomen Ballensis." 

Aghagower,  in  the  same  county,  Vallancey  also 
explains  "  fire  of  fires,"  and  with  the  same  object, 
as  a  round  tower  exists  there.  He  was  not  aware 
that  the  original  name  was  Achadh-fobhair,  for  so 
it  is  called  in  the  Four  Masters  and  in  the  most 
ancient  Lives  of  St.  Patrick :  it  signifies  "  the 
field  of  the  spring,"  and  the  place  took  its  name 
from  a  celebrated  well,  which  is  now  called  St. 
Patrick's  Well.  Its  name  must  have  been  cor- 
rupted at  an  early  date,  for  Duald  Mac  Firbis  calls 
it  Achadh-gabhair  ("Hy  Fiachrach,"  p.  151) ;  but 
even  this  does  not  signify  "  fire  of  fires,"  but  a 
very  different  thing — "  the  field  of  the  goat." 

Smith,  in  his  History  of  Cork,  states  that  the 
barony  of  Kinalmeaky  means  "the  head  of  the 
noble  root,"  from  cean,  head,  neat,  noble,  and 
meacan,  a  root.  The  true  form  of  the  name, 
however,  is  Cinel-mBece  (O'Heerin),  which  was 
originally  the  name,  not  of  the  territory,  but  of 
the  tribe  that  inhabited  it,  and  which  means  "  the 

7b  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [PART  I 

descendants  (cinel)  of  Bece,"  who  was  the  ancestor 
of  the  O'Mahonys,  and  flourished  in  the  seventh 

In  Seward's  Topographical  Dictionary  it  is 
stated  that  Baltinglass  (in  "Wicklow)  "  is  derived 
from  Beal-tinne-glas,  or  the  fire  of  Beal's  mysteries, 
the  fires  being  lighted  there  by  the  Druids  in 
honour  of  the  sun ;"  and  the  writer  of  a  Guide  to 
Wicklow  (Curry,  Dublin,  1834)  says  that  it  is 
"Bal-teach-na-glass,  or  the  town  of  the  grey  houses ;" 
and  he  adds,  "  certainly  the  appearance  of  them 
bears  us  out  in  this'"  This  is  all  pure  invention, 
for  neither  of  the  original  forms  here  given  is  the 
correct  one,  and  even  if  it  were,  it  would  not  bear 
the  meaning  assigned,  nor  indeed  any  meaning  at 
all.  In  ancient  documents  the  name  is  always 
given  Bealach-  Chonglais  [Ballaconglas  :  Dinnsen- 
chus],  the  pass  or  road  of  Cuglas,  a  personage 
connected  with  the  locality,  about  whom  there  is 
a  curious  and  very  ancient  legend :  in  Grace's 
Annals  it  is  anglicised  Balkynglas,  which  is  nearer 
the  original  than  the  modern  corrupt  name.  There 
was  another  Beaktch-Chonglais  near  Cork  city,  but 
the  name  is  now  lost,  and  the  exact  situation  of 
the  place  is  not  known. 



IN  an  essay  on  Irish  local  names  it  may  be  ex- 
pected that  I  should  give  some  information 
regarding  their  antiquity.  In  various  individual 

CHAP,  v.]   The  Antiquity  of  Irish  Local  Names.     77 

cases  through  this  book  I  have  indicated  the  da/.e, 
certain  or  probable,  at  which  the  name  was  im- 
posed ;  or  the  earliest  period  when  it  was  known 
to  have  been  in  use ;  but  it  may  be  of  interest  to 
state  here  some  general  conclusions,  to  which  the 
evidence  at  our  command  enables  us  to  arrive. 

When  we  wish  to  investigate  the  composition 
and  meaning  of  a  name,  we  are  not  warranted  in 
going  back  farther  than  the  oldest  actually  existing 
manusciipts  in  which  it  is  found  written,  and  upon 
the  form  given  in  these  we  must  found  our  con- 
clusions. But  when  our  object  is  to  determine 
the  antiquity  of  the  name,  or,  in  other  words,  the 
period  when  it  was  first  imposed,  we  have  usually 
a  wider  scope  and  fuller  evidence  to  guide  us. 

For,  first,  if  the  oldest  existing  manuscript  in 
which  the  name  occurs  is  known  as  a  fact  to  have 
been  copied  from  another  still  older,  not  now  in 
existence,  this  throws  back  the  age  of  the  name  to 
at  least  the  date  of  the  transcription  of  the  latter. 
But,  secondly,  the  period  when  a  name  happens  to 
be  first  committed  to  writing  is  no  measure  of  its 
real  antiquity ;  for  it  may  have  been  in  use  hun- 
dreds of  years  before  being  embalmed  in  the  pages 
of  any  written  document.  While  we-«re  able  to 
assert  with  certainty  that  the  name  is  at  least  as 
old  as  the  time  of  the  writer  who  first  mentioned 
it,  the  validity  of  any  further  deductions  regarding 
its  absolute  age  depends  on  the  authenticity  of  our 
history,  and  on  the  correctness  of  our  chronology. 

I  will  illustrate  these  remarks  by  an  example : — 
The  city  of  Armagh  is  mentioned  in  numerous 
Irish  documents,  many  of  them  of  great  antiquity, 
such  as  the  Book  of  Leinster,  &c.,  and  always  in 
the  form  Ard-Macha,  except  when  the  Latin 
equivalent  is  used.  The  oldest  of  these  is  the 
Book  of  Armagh,  which  is  known  to  have  been 

78  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     C*ART  *• 

transcribed  about  the  year  807 ;  in  this  we  find 
the  name  translated  by  Altitudo  Machce,  which  de- 
termines the  meaning,  namely,  Macha's  height. 

But  in  this  same  Book  of  Armagh,  as  well  as 
in  many  other  ancient  authorities,  the  place  is 
mentioned  in  connection  with  St.  Patrick,  who  is 
recorded  to  have  founded  the  cathedral  about  the 
year  457,  the  site  having  been  granted  to  him  by 
Daire,  the  chief  of  the  surrounding  district ;  and 
as  the  history  of  St.  Patrick,  and  of  this  founda- 
tion, is  accepted  on  all  hands  as  authentic,  we  have 
undoubted  evidence  that  the  name  existed  in  the 
fifth  century,  though  we  possess  no  docament  of 
that  age  in  which  it  is  written.  And  even  without 
further  testimony  we  are  able  to  say  that  it  is 
older,  for  it  was  in  use  before  St.  Patrick's  arrival, 
who  only  accepted  the  name  as  he  found  it. 

But  here  again  history,  though  of  a  less  reliable 
character,  comes  to  our  aid.  There  is  an  ancient 
tract  called  Dinnsenchus,  which  professes  to  give 
the  origin  of  the  names  of  the  most  celebrated 
localities  in  Ireland,  and  among  others  that  of 
Armagh.  It  is  a  fact  admitting  of  no  doubt  that 
the  place  received  its  name  from  some  remarkable 
woman  named  Macha,  and  the  ancient  writer  in 
the  Dinnsenchus  mentions  three,  from  one  of 
whom  the  name  was  derived,  but  does  not  decide 
which.  The  first  was  Macha,  the  wife  of  Newy, 
who  led  hither  a  colony  about  600  years  after  the 
deluge;  the  second,  Macha  of  the  golden  hair, 
who  founded  the  palace  of  Emania,  300  years 
before  the  Christian  era ;  and  the  third,  Macha, 
wife  of  Crunn,  who  lived  in  the  reign  of  Conor 
Mac  Nessa  in  the  first  century.  The  second 
Macha  is  recorded  to  have  been  buried  there ;  and 
as  she  was  by  far  the  most  celebrated  of  the  three, 
she  it  was,  most  probably,  after  whom  the  place 

CHAP,  v.]   The  Antiquity  of  Irish  Local  Na-mei,     79 

was  called.  We  may  conclude,  therefore,  w<ith 
every  appearance  of  certainty,  that  the  name  has 
an  antiquity  of  more  than  two  thousand  years. 

Following  this  method  of  investigation,  we  are 
able  to  determine,  with  considerable  precision,  the 
age  of  hundreds  of  local  names  still  in  use  ;  and  as 
a  further  illustration,  I  shall  enter  into  some  detail 
concerning  a  few  of  the  most  ancient  authorities 
that  have  come  down  to  us. 

The  oldest  writer  by  whom  Irish  places  are 
named  in  detail  is  the  Greek  geographer,  Ptolemy, 
who  wrote  his  treatise  in  the  beginning  of  the 
second  century.  It  is  well  known  that  Ptolemy's 
work  is  only  a  corrected  copy  of  another  written 
by  Marinus  of  Tyre,  who  lived  a  short  time  before 
nim,  and  the  latter  is  believed  to  have  drawn  -his 
materials  from  an  ancient  Tyrian  atlas.  The 
names  preserved  by  Ptolemy  are,  therefore,  so  far 
as  they  are  authentic,  as  old  at  least  as  the  first 
century,  and  with  great  probability  much  older. 

Unfortunately  very  few  of  his  Irish  names  have 
reached  our  time.*  In  the  portion  of  his  work 
relating  to  Ireland,  he  mentions  over  fifty,  and 
of  these  only  about  nine,  can  be  identified  with 
names  existing  within  the  period  reached  by  our 
history.  These  are  Senos,  now  the  Shannon; 
Birgos,  the  Barrow ;  Bououinda,  the  Boyne; 
Hhikina,  Kechra  or  Rathlin ;  Logia,  the  Lagan ; 
Nagnatai,  Connaught ;  Isamnion  Akron,  Rinn 
Seimhne  (now  Island  Magee),  i.  e.  the  point  of 
Seimhne,  an  ancient  territory ;  Eblana,  Dublin ; 
and  another  (Edros)  to  which  I  shall  return  pre- 

The  river  that  he  calls  Oboka  appears,  by  its 
position  on  the  map,  to  be  the  same  as  the  Wicklow 

*  The  following  observations  refer  to  Mercator's  Edition,  1605. 

80  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [PART''. 

river  now  so  well  known  as  the  Ovoca;  but 
this  last  name  has  been  borrowed  from  Ptolemy 
himself,  and  has  been  applied  to  the  river  in  very 
recent  times.  Its  proper  name,  as  we  find  it  in 
the  Annals,  is  Avonmore,  which  is  still  the  name 
of  one  of  the  two  principal  branches  that  form  the 
"  Meeting  of  the  Waters." 

He  places  a  town  called  Dounon  near  the  Oboka. 
It  is  now  impossible  to  determine  the  place  that 
is  meant  by  this;  but  the  record  is  valuable,  as 
the  name  is  obviously  the  Keltic  dun,  with  the 
Greek  inflexion  on  postfixed,  which  shows  that 
this  word  was  in  use  as  a  local  appellative  at  that 
early  age. 

There  is  one  very  interesting  example  of  the 
complete  preservation  of  a  name  unchanged,  from 
the  time  of  the  Phoenician  navigators  to  the  pre- 
sent day.  Just  outside  Eblana  there  appears  a 
small  island,  which  is  called  Edri  Deserta  on  the 
map,  and  Edrou  Heremos  in  the  Greek  text,  i.  e. 
the  desert  of  Edros ;  which  last  name,  after  re- 
moving the  Greek  inflexion,  and  making  allowance 
for  the  usual  contraction,  regains  the  original  form 
Edar.  This  is  exactly  the  Irish  name  of  Howth, 
used  in  all  our  ancient  authorities,  either  as  it 
stands,  or  with  the  addition  of  Ben  (Ben-Edair, 
the  peak  of  Edar)  ;  still  well  known  throughout 
the  whole  country  by  speakers  of  Irish ;  and  per- 
petuated to  future  time  in  the  names  of  several 
villa  residences  built  within  the  last  few  years  on 
the  hill. 

Some  writers  have  erroneously  identified  Edrou 
Heremos  with  Ireland's  Eye,  probably  because  the 
former  is  represented  as  an  island.  The  perfect 
coincidence  of  the  name  is  alone  sufficient  to  prove 
that  Ben-Edar  is  the  place  meant ;  but  I  may  add, 
that  to  the  ancient  navigators  who  collected  the 

CHAP,  v.]     The  Antiquity  of  Irish  Local  Names.    81 

information  handed  down  to  us  by  Ptolemy,  Ire- 
land's Eye  would  be  barely  noticeable  as  tfoey 
sailed  along  our  coasts,  whereas  the  bold  headland 
of  Ben-Edar  formed  a  prominent  landmark,  certain 
to  be  remembered  and  recorded ;  and  connected  as 
it  was  with  the  mainland  by  a  low,  narrow  isthmus, 
it  is  no  wonder  they  mistook  it  for  an  island. 
"  Hoath,  a  great  high  mountain,  .  .  .  having 
the  sea  on  all  sides,  except  the  west  side ;  where 
with  a  long  narrow  neck  it  is  joined  to  the  land ; 
which  neck  being  low  ground,  one  may  from 
either  side  see  the  sea  over  it ;  so  that  afar  off  it 
seemeth  as  if  it  were  an  island." — (Boate :  JN"at. 
Hist,  of  Ireland).  Besides,  as  we  know  from  our 
most  ancient  authorities,  Howth  was  a  celebrated 
locality  from  the  earliest  times  reached  by  history 
or  tradition ;  whereas  Ireland's  Eye  was  a  place 
of  no  note  till  the  seventh  century,  when  it  was 
selected,  like  many  other  islands  round  the  coast, 
as  a  place  of  religious  retirement  by  Christian 

According  to  some  Irish  authorities,  the  place 
received  the  name  of  Ben-Edair  from  a  Tuatha  De 
Danann  chieftain,  Edar,  the  son  of  Edgaeth,  who 
was  buried  there ;  while  others  say  that  it  was 
from  Edar  the  wife  of  Gann,  one  of  the  five  Fir- 
bolg  brothers  who  divided  Ireland  between  them. 
The  name  Howth  is  Danish.  It  is  written  in 
ancient  letters  Ho/da,  Houete,  and  Howeth,  all  dif- 
ferent forms  of  the  northern  word  /loved,  a  head 

The  Irish  names  orginally  collected  for  this  an- 
cient atlas  were  learned  from  the  natives  by  sailors 
speaking  a  totally  different  language  ;  the  latter 
delivered  them  in  turn,  from  memory,  to  the  com- 
piler, who  was  of  course  obliged  to  represent  them 
by  Phoenician  letters ;  and  they  were  ultimately 
VOL.  i.  7 

82  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [FART  1. 

transferred  by  Ptolemy  into  the  Greek  language. 
It  appears  perfectly  obvious,  therefore,  that  the 
names,  as  we  find  them  on  Ptolemy's  map,  must 
in  general  be  very  much  distorted  from  the  proper 
forms,  as  used  at  the  time  by  the  inhabitants. 

Enormous  changes  of  form  have  taken  place  in 
our  own  time  in  many  Irish  names  that  have  been 
transferred  merely  from  Irish  to  English,  under 
circumstances  far  more  favourable  to  correctness. 
If  some  old  compiler,  in  drawing  a  map  of  Ireland, 
had  removed  the  ancient  Ceann  Leime  (the  head 
of  the  leap)  twenty  or  thirty  miles  from  its  proper 
position  (as  Ptolemy  does  in  case  of  several  places), 
and  called  it  by  its  present  name  Slyne  Head,  and 
if  all  intermediate  information  were  lost,  it  is 
highly  probable  that  it  would  never  be  recognised. 

When  we  reflect  on  all  this,  and  remember  be- 
sides that  several  of  the  names  are  no  doubt 
fantastic  translations,  and  that  with  great  proba- 
bility many  of  them  never  existed  at  all,  except 
in  the  imagination  of  the  voyagers,  we  shall  cease 
to  be  surprised  that,  out  of  more  than  fifty,  we 
are  able  to  identify  only  about  nine  of  Ptolemy's 

The  next  writer  after  Ptolemy  who  has  men- 
tioned many  Irish  localities,  and  whose  works 
remain  to  us,  is  a  native,  namely,  Adamnan,  who 
wrote  his  Life  of  St.  Columba  in  the  seventh 
century,  but  the  names  he  records  were  all  in  use 
before  the  time  of  Columba  in  the  sixth  century. 
In  this  work  about  forty  Irish  places  are  men- 
tioned, and  here  we  have  Ptolemy's  case  reversed. 
The  number  of  names  totally  lost,  or  not  yet  re- 
cognised, does  not  amount  to  half-a-dozen.  All 
the  rest  have  been  identified  in  Reeves's  edition  of 
Adamnan  ;  of  these,  nine  or  ten,  though  now  ob- 
solete, occur  frequently  in  Irish  MSS.,  and  have 

CHAP,  v.j     The  Antiquity  of  Irish  Local  Names.    83 

been  in  use  down  to  recent  times ;  the  remainder 
exist  at  the  present  day,  and  are  still  applied  to 
the  localities. 

It  will  not  be  necessary  to  detail  the  numerous 
writers,  whose  works  are  still  extant,  that  flourished 
at  different  periods  from  Adamnan  down  to  the 
time  of  Colgan  and  the  O'Clerys ;  or  the  ancient 
MSS.  that  remain  to  us,  enumerating  or  describing 
Irish  localities.  It  will  be  enough  to  say  that  in 
the  majority  of  cases  the  places  they  mention  are 
still  known  by  the  same  names,  and  have  been 

identified    in    our    own    day   by    various    Irish 

,    T  J      J 

sc  lolars. 

The  conclusion  naturally  following  from  this  is, 
that  the  names  by  which  all  places  of  any  note 
were  known  in  the  sixth  and  succeeding  centuries 
are,  with  some  exceptions,  the  very  names  they 
bear  at  the  present  day. 

A  vast  number  of  names  containing  the  words 
dun,  rath,  Its,  caher,  carn,fert,  cloon,  &c.,  are  as  old 
at  least  as  the  advent  of  Christianity,  and  a  large 
proportion  much  older ;  for  all  these  terms  are  of 
pagan  origin,  though  many  of  them  were  adopted 
by  Christian  missionaries.  And  in  various  parts 
of  this  book  will  be  found  numbers  of  territorial 
designations,  which  were  originally  tribe  names, 
derived  from  kings  and  chieftains  who  flourished 
at  different  times  from  the  foundation  of  the  palace 
of  Emania  (300  years  B.C.)  to  the  ninth  century 
of  the  Christian  era. 

Those  ecclesiastical  designations  that  are  formed 
from  the  names  of  saints  after  such  words  as  kill, 
temple,  donagh,  aglish,  ti,  &c.,  were  generally  im- 
posed at  various  times  from  the  fifth  to  the  eighth 
or  ninth  century  ;  and  among  these  may  be  enu- 
merated the  greater  number  of  our  parish  names. 
One  example  will  be  sufficient  to  illustrate  this, 

84  The  Irish  Local  Name  System.     [PART  i. 

but  many  will  be  found  through  the  book,  espe- 
cially in  the  next  three  or  four  chapters. 

We  have  undoubted  historic  testimony  that  the 
name  of  Killaspugbrone,  near  Sligo,  is  as  old  as 
the  end  of  the  fifth  century.  It  took  its  name 
from  one  of  St.  Patrick's  disciples,  Bron  or 
Bronus,  who  was  also  a  contemporary  and  friend 
of  St.  Brigid  of  Kildare,  and  became  bishop  of 
Cassel  Irra,  in  the  district  of  Cuil-Irra,  the  penin- 
sula lying  south-west  of  Sligo.  In  the  Book  of 
Armagh,  and  in  the  Tripartite  Life,  it  is  stated 
that  after  St.  Patrick  had  passed  from  the  For- 
ragh,  or  assembly  place,  of  the  sons  of  Awly,  he 
crossed  the  Moy  at  Bartragh,  and  built  the  church 
of  Cassel  Irra  for  his  disciple,  Bishop  Bronus,  the 
son  of  Icnus.  Bronus  died  on  the  8th  June,  512, 
on  which  day  he  is  commemorated  in  O'Clery'a 
Calendar.  And  the  name  Killaspugbrone  is  very 
little  altered  from  the  original  CiU-easpuig-Broin 
(Four  Mast.),  the  church  of  Bishop  Bronus.  A 
ruined  little  church  still  remains  on  the  very  spot, 
but  it  cannot  be  the  structure  erected  by  St. 
Patrick,  for  the  style  of  masonry  proves  that  it 
belongs  to  a  very  much  later  period. 

The  process  of  name-forming  has  continued 
from  those  early  ages  down  to  recent  times.  It  in  active  operation  during  the  twelfth,  thir- 
teenth, fourteenth,  and  fifteenth  centuries,  for  we 
have  great  numbers  of  names  derived  from  Eng- 
lish families  who  settled  amongst  us  during  these 
periode.  It  has  never  entirely  ceased,  and  pro- 
bably never  will ;  for  I  might  point  to  some 
names  which  have  been  imposed  within  our  own 

The  number  of  names  given  within  the  last  two 
centuries  is  so  small,  however,  that  we  may  regard 
the  process  as  virtually  at  an  end,  only  making 

CHAP,  v.]    The  Antiquity  of  Irish  Local  Names.    85 

allowance  for  those  imperceptibly  slow  changes 
incidental  to  language  in  its  cultivated  stage.  The 
great  body  of  our  townland  and  other  names  are 
at  least  several  hundred  years  old ;  for  those  that 
we  find  in  the  inquisitions  and  maps  of  the  six- 
teenth and  seventeenth  centuries,  which  are  nume- 
rous and  minute,  exist,  with  few  exceptions,  at  the 
present  day,  and  generally  with  very  slight  altera- 
tions of  form. 





HE  face  of  the  country  is 
5;  a  book,  which  if  it  be 
•'  deciphered  correctly,  and 
read  attentively,  will  un- 
fold more  than  ever  did  the 
cuneiform  inscriptions  of 
Persia,  or  the  hieroglyphics 
of  Egypt.  Not  only  are  his- 
torical events  and  the  names  of  innumerable 
remarkable  persons  recorded,  but  the  whole  social 
life  of  our  ancestors — their  customs,  their  super- 
stitions, their  battles,  their  amusements,  their 
religious  fervour,  and  their  crimes  —are  depicted 
in  vivid  and  everlasting  colours.  The  characters 
are  often  obscure,  and  the  page  defaced  by  time, 
but  enough  remains  to  repay  with  a  rich  reward 
the  toil  of  the  investigator.  Let  us  hold  up  the 
scroll  to  the  light,  and  decipher  some  of  these  in- 
teresting records. 

One  of  the  most  noted  facts  in  ancient  Irish 
and  British  history  is  the  migration  of  colonies 
from  the  north  of  Ireland  to  the  neighbouring 

CHAP.  i.J  Historical  Events.  8? 

coasts  of  Scotland,  and  the  intimate  intercourse 
that  in  consequence  existed  in  early  ages  between 
the  two  countries.  The  first  regular  settlement 
mentioned  by  our  historians  was  made  in  the  latter 
part  of  the  second  century,  by  Cairbre  Biada, 
son  of  Conary  the  second,  king  of  Ireland.  This 
expedition,  which  is  mentioned  in  most  of  our 
Annals,  is  confirmed  by  Bede  in  the  following 
words  : — "  In  course  of  time,  Britain,  besides  the 
Britons  and  Picts,  received  a  third  nation,  the 
Scoti,  who,  issuing  from  Hibernia  under  the  leader- 
ship of  Reuda,  secured  for  themselves,  either  by 
friendship  or  by  the  sword,  settlements  among  the 
Picts,  which  they  still  possess.  From  the  name 
of  their  commander  they  are  to  this  day  called 
Dalreudini ;  for  in  their  language  Dal  signifies  a 
part"  (Hist.  Eccl.,  Lib.  I.  Cap.  1). 

There  were  other  colonies  also,  the  most  re- 
markable of  which  was  that  led  by  Fergus,  Angus, 
and  Loarn,  the  three  sons  of  Ere,  in  the  year 
506,  which  laid  the  foundation  of  the  Scottish 
monarchy.  The  country  colonised  by  these  emi- 
grants was  known  by  the  name  of  Airer-Oaedhil 
[Arrer-gale],  ("Wars  of  GGr.),  i.e.  the  territory  of 
the  Gael  or  Irish  ;  and  the  name  is  still  applied  to 
the  territory  in  the  shortened  form  of  Argyle,  a 
living  record  of  these  early  colonisations. 

The  descendants  of  Loarn  were  called  Kinel- 
Loarn,  the  family  or  race  of  Loarn  (see  Ginel 
further  on),  and  gave  their  name  to  the  territory 
of  Lome  in  Scotland;  from  which  again  the 
Marquis  of  Lome  has  his  title. 

The  tribes  over  whom  Carbery  ruled  were,  aa 
Bede  and  our  own  Annals  record,  called  from  him 
Dalriada,  Riada's  portion  or  tribe  ;  of  which  there 
were  two — one  in  Ireland,  and  the  other  and  more 
illustrious  in  Scotland.  The  name  has  boen  long 

38         Historical  and  Legendary  Names.   [PART  n. 

forgotten  in  the  latter  country,  but  still  remains 
in  Ireland,  though  in  such  a  worn  down  and  frag- 
mentary state,  that  it  requires  the  microscope  of 
the  philologist  and  historian  to  recognise  it. 

The  Irish  Dalriada  included  that  part  of  Antrim 
extending  from  the  Ravel  water  northwards,  and 
the  same  district  is  called  at  the  present  day  the 
Route,  or  by  Latin  writers  Ruta,  which  is  consi- 
dered by  Ussher  and  O'Flaherty  to  be  a  corruption 
of  the  latter  part  of  DsH-Hiada.  If  this  opinion 
be  correct — and  I  see  DO  reason  to  question  it — 
there  are  few  local  names  in  the  British  islands 
more  venerable  for  antiquity  than  this,  preserving 
with  little  alteration,  through  the  turmoil  of 
seventeen  centuries,  the  name  of  the  first  leader  of 
a  Scotic  colony  to  the  coasts  of  Alban. 

The  name  of  Scotland  also  commemorates  these 
successive  emigrations  of  Irishmen  ;  it  has,  more- 
over, an  interesting  history  of  its  own,  and  exhibits 
one  of  the  most  curious  instances  on  record  of  the 
strange  vicissitudes  to  which  topographical  names 
are  often  subjected,  having  been  completely  trans- 
ferred from  one  country  to  another. 

The  name  Scotia  originally  belonged  to  Ireland, 
and  the  Irish  were  called  Scoti  or  Scots ;  Scot- 
land, which  was  anciently  called  Alba,  subse- 
quently got  the  name  of  Scotia  Minor,  as  being 
peopled  by  Scots  from  Ireland,  while  the  parent 
country  was  for  distinction  often  called  Scotia 
Major.  This  continued  down  to  about  the  eleventh 
century,  when  Ireland  returned  to  the  other  native 
name  Mire,  and  "Scotia"  was  thenceforward  ex- 
clusively applied  to  Scotland.  The  name  Ireland 
is  merely  the  Anglo-Saxon  name  Iraland,  i.  e. 
Eire-land  (see  Ireland  in  second  volume). 

That  the  Scoti  were  the  inhabitants  of  Ireland 
\rould  be  sufficiently  proved  by  the  single  quota- 

CHAP,  i.]  Historical  Events.  89 

tion  given  above  from  Bede ;  but  besides,  i  we 
find  it  expressly  stated  by  several  other  ancient 
authorities ;  and  the  Irish  are  called  Scoti  in 
Cormac's  Glossary,  as  well  as  in  other  native 
writings.  Adamnan  often  uses  Hibernia  and 
Scotia  synonymously :  thus  in  his  Life  of  Columba 
we  find  the  following  passage : — "  On  a  certain 
day  the  holy  man  ordered  one  of  his  monks  named 
Trenan  of  the  tribe  of  Mocuruntir,  to  go  on  a 

commission  to  Scotia  (ad  Scotiam] : The 

saint  answering  him,  '  Go  in  peace ;  you  shall  have 
a  favourable  and  erood  wind  till  you  arrive  in 
Hibernia  (ad  Hiberniam]  ;;  you  shall  find  a  man 
coming  to  meet  you  from  a  distance,  who  will  be 
the  first  to  seize  the  prow  of  your  ship  in  Scotia 
(in  Scotia)  ;  he  will  accompany  you  in  your 
journey  for  some  days  in  Hibernia."  (Lib.  L, 
Cap.  18). 

Many  testimonies  of  this  kind  might  be  adduced 
from  other  writers;  and  if  another  clear  proof 
were  necessary,  we  find  it  in  an  ode  of  the  poet 
Claudian,  celebrating  a  victory  of  Theodosius  over 
the  three  nations  of  the  Saxons,  the  Picts,  and 
the  Scots,  in  which  the  following  passage  occurs:— - 
"  The  Orcades  flowed  with  Saxon  gore ;  Thule 
became  warm  with  the  blood  of  the  Picts ;  and  icy 
lerne  wept  her  heaps  of  (slaughtered)  Scots  " 

The  foundation  of  the  celebrated  palace  of 
Eamhuin  or  Emania,  which  took  place  about  300 
years  before  the  Incarnation,  forms  an  important 
epoch ;  it  is  the  limit  assigned  to  authentic  Irish 
history  by  the  annalist  Tighernach,  who  asserts 
that  all  accounts  of  events  anterior  to  this  are 
uncertain.  The  following  are  the  circumstances 
of  its  origin  as  given  in  the  Book  of  Leinster. 
Three  Kings,  Aedh-ruadh  [Ayroo].  Dihorba,  and 
Ciombaeth  [Kimbay],  agreed  to  reign  each  for 

90       Historical  and  Legendary  Names-     [PART  n. 

seven  years  in  alternate  succession,  and  they  each 
enjoyed  the  sovereignty  for  three  periods,  or 
twenty-one  years,  when  Aedh-ruadh  died.  His 
daughter,  the  celebrated  Macha  of  the  golden  hair, 
asserted  her  right  to  reign  when  her  father's  turn 
came,  and  being  opposed  by  Dihorba  and  his  sons, 
she  defeated  them  in  several  battles,  in  one  of 
which  Dihorba  was  killed,  and  she  then  assumed 
the  sovereignty. 

She  afterwards  married  the  surviving  monarch, 
Embay,  and  took  the  five  sons  of  Dihorba  pri- 
soners. The  Ultonians  proposed  that  they  should 
be  put  to  death: — "Not  so,"  said  she,  "because 
it  would  be  the  defilement  of  the  righteousness  of 
a  sovereign  in  me ;  but  they  shall  be  condemned 
to  slavery,  and  shall  raise  a  rath  around  me,  and 
it  shall  be  the  chief  city  of  Ulster  for  ever."  The 
account  then  gives  a  fanciful  derivation  of  the 
name ;  "  And  she  marked  for  them  the  dun  with 
her  brooch  of  gold  from  her  neck,"  so  that  the 
palace  was  called  Eomuin  or  Eamhuin,  from  eo,  a 
brooch,  and  muin  the  neck  (see  Armagh,  p.  77, 
and  O'Curry's  Lectures,  p.  527). 

The  remains  of  this  great  palace  are  situated 
about  a  mile  and  a  half  west  of  Armagh,  and 
consist  of  a  circular  rath  or  rampart  of  earth  with 
a  deep  fosse,  enclosing  about  eleven  acres,  within 
which  are  two  smaller  circular  forts.  The  great 
rath  is  still  known  by  the  name  of  the  Navan 
Fort,  in  which  the  original  name  is  c  iriously 
preserved.  The  proper  Irish  form  is  JEamhuin, 
which  is  pronounced  aven,  E mania  being  merely 
a  latinised  form.  The  Irish  article  an,  contracted 
as  usual  to  n,  placed  before  this,  makes  it  nEam- 
huin,  the  pronunciation  of  which  is  exactly  repre- 
sented by  Navan  (see  page  23,  supra}. 

This  ancient  palace  was  destroyed  in  A.D.  332, 

CHAP.  ].]  Historical  Events.  91 

after  having  flourished  as  the  chief  royal  resi- 
dence of  Ulster  for  more  than  600  years ;  and  it 
would  perhaps  be  difficult  to  identify  its  site  with 
absolute  certainty,  were  it  not  for  the  singular 
tenacity  with  which  it  has  retained  its  name 
through  all  the  social  revolutions  of  sixteen  hun- 
dred years. 

The  Red  Branch  Knights  of  Ulster,  so  cele- 
brated in  our  early  romances,  and  whose  renown 
has  descended  to  the  present  day,  flourished  in 
the  first  century,  and  attained  their  greatest  glory 
in  the  reign  of  Conor  Mac  Nessa.  They  were  a 
kind  of  militia  in  the  service  of  the  monarch,  and 
received  their  name  from  residing  in  one  of  the 
houses  of  the  palace  of  Emania,  called  Craebh-. 
ruadh  [Creeveroe]  or  the  Red  Branch,  where  they 
were  trained  in  valour  and  feats  of  arms.  The 
name  of  this  ancient  military  college  is  still  pre- 
served in  that  of  the  adjacent  townlandof  Creeve- 
roe ;  and  thus  has  descended  through  another 
medium,  to  our  own  time,  the  echo  of  these  old 
heroic  days. 

Another  military  organisation  not  less  cele- 
brated, of  somewhat  later  date,  was  that  of  the 
Fians,  or  Feni,  or,  as  they  are  often  called,  the 
Fianna  of  Erin.  They  flourished  in  the  reign  of 
Cormac  mac  Art  in  the  third  century,  and  formed 
a  militia  for  the  defence  of  the  throne ;  their  leader 
was  the  renowned  Finn  mac  Cumhail  [Finn  mac 
Coole],  who  resided  at  the  hill  of  Allen  in  Kil- 
dare,  and  whom  Macpherson  attempted  to  transfer 
to  Scotland  under  the  name  of  Fingal.  Finn  and 
his  companions  are  to  this  day  vividly  remembered 
in  tradition  and  legend,  in  every  part  of  Ireland  ; 
and  the  hills,  the  glens,  and  the  rocks  still  attest, 
not  merely  their  existence,  for  that  no  one  who 
has  studied  the  question  can  doubt,  but  the 

92        Historical  and  Legendary  Names.    [PART  n. 

important  part  they  played  in  the  government  and 
military  affairs  of  the  kingdom. 

One  of  the  principal  amusements  of  these  old 
heroes,  when  not  employed  in  war,  was  hunting  ; 
and  during  their  long  sporting  excursions  they 
had  certain  favourite  hills  on  which  they  were  in 
the  habit  of  resting  and  feasting  during  the  inter- 
vals of  the  chase.  These  hills,  most  of  which  are 
crowned  by  earns  or  moats,  are  called  Suidhe-Finn 
[Seefin],  Finn's  seat  or  resting  place,  and  they 
are  found  in  each  of  the  four  provinces  ;  the  name 
appears  to  have  belonged  originally  to  the  earns, 
and  to  have  extended  afterwards  to  the  hills. 

There  is  one  among  the  Dublin  mountains,  a 
few  miles  south  of  Tallaght ;  another  among  the 
Galties ;  and  the  fine  mountain  of  Seefin  termi- 
nates the  Ballyhoura  range  towards  the  north-east, 
three  miles  south  of  Kilfinane  in  Limerick.  Im- 
mediately under  the  brow  of  this  mountain 
reposes  the  beautiful  vale  of  Glenosheen,  whose 
name  commemorates  the  great  poet  and  warrior, 
Oisin,  the  son  of  Finn;  and  in  several  of  the 
neighbouring  glens  there  are  rocks,  which  are 
associated  in  the  legends  of  the  peasantry  with 
the  exploits  of  these  ancient  warriors.  There  are 
also  places  called  Seefin  in  Cavan,  Armagh  (near 
Newry),  Down,  King's  County,  Galway,  Mayo, 
and  Sligo ;  while  in  Tyrone  we  find  Seein,  which 
is  the  same  name  with  the /aspirated  and  omitted. 
Finn's  father,  Cumhal  [Coole],  was  slain  by  Gaul- 
mac-Morna  at  the  terrible  battle  of  Cnucha  or 
Castleknock,  near  Dublin ;  he  is  believed  to  have 
had  his  residence  at  Rathcoole  (Cumhal's  rath), 
now  a  small  town  nine  miles  south-west  of  the 
city  ;  but  I  cannot  find  that  any  vestige  of  his 
rath  remains. 

There  are  numerous   places  in   every  part  of 

CHAP,  i.]  Historical  Events.  93 

Ireland,  where,  according  to  tradition,  Finn's 
soldier's  used  to  meet  for  various  purposes ;  and 
many  of  them  still  retain  names  that  speak  plainly 
enough  of  these  assemblies.  In  the  county  Mo- 
naghan  we  find  Lisnaveane,  that  is,  Lios-na- 
bhFiann,  the  fort  of  the  Fianna ;  in  Donegal 
Meenavean,  where  on  the  meen,  or  mountain  flat, 
they  no  doubt  rested  from  the  fatigues  of  the 
chase ;  near  Killorglin  in  Kerry,  Derrynafeana 
(Deny,  an  oak-wood),  and  in  another  part  of  the 
same  county  is  a  river  called  Owennafeana;  in 
Westmeath,  Carnlyan  and  Skeanaveane  (Skea,  a 
bush)  ;  and  many  other  such  names. 

The  name  of  Leinster  is  connected  with  one  of 
the  most  remarkable  of  the  very  early  events 
recorded  in  the  history  of  Ireland.  In  the  third 
century  before  the  Christian  era,  Coffagh  Gael 
Bra  murdered  his  brother,  Leary  Lore,  monarch 
of  Ireland,  and  the  king's  son,  Olioll  Aine,  and 
immediately  usurped  the  throne.  Maen,  after- 
wards called  Labhradh  Linshagh  (Lavra  the  ma- 
riner), son  of  Olioll,  was  banished  by  the  usurper ; 
and  having  remained  for  some  time  in  the  south 
of  Ireland,  he  was  forced  to  leave  the  country, 
and  crossed  the  sea  to  Gaul.  He  entered  the 
military  service  of  the  king  of  that  country,  and 
after  having  greatly  distinguished  himself,  he 
returned  to  his  native  land  with  a  small  army  of 
foreigners,  to  wrest  the  crown  from  the  murderer 
of  his  father  and  grandfather. 

He  landed  at  the  mouth  of  the  Slaney  in  Wex- 
ford,  and  after  having  been  joined  by  a  number 
of  followers,  he  marched  to  the  palace  of  Dinn 
Righ  [Dinree,  the  fortress  of  the  kings],  in  which 
Coffagh  was  then  holding  an  assembly  with  thirty 
native  princes  and  a  guard  of  700  men.  The 
palace  was  surprised  by  night,  set  on  fire,  and  all 

94       Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  il. 

its  inmates — king,  princes,  and  guards — burned 
to  death.  Maen  then  assumed  the  sovereignty, 
and  reigned  for  nineteen  years. 

The  exact  description  of  the  annalists  identifies 
very  clearly  the  position  of  this  ancient  palace,  the 
great  mound  of  which  still  exists,  though  its  name 
has  been  long  forgotten.  It  is  now  called  Bally- 
knockan  moat,  and  lies  on  the  west  bank  of  the  Bar- 
row, a  quarter  of  a  mile  south  of  Leighlinbridge 

Lavra's  foreign  auxiliaries  used  a  peculiarly- 
shaped  broad-pointed  spear,  which  was  called 
laighen  [layen]  ;  and  from  this  circumstance,  the 
province  in  which  they  settled,  which  had  pre- 
viously borne  the  name  of  Galian,  was  afterwards 
called  Laighen,  which  is  its  present  Irish  name. 
The  syllable  "  ster "  (for  which  see  farther  on) 
was  added  in  after  ages,  and  the  whole  word  pro- 
nounced Laynster,  which  is  the  very  name  given 
in  a  state  paper  of  the  year  1515,  and  which 
naturally  settled  into  the  present  form  Leinster. 

Lavra's  expedition  is  mentioned  by  Tighernach, 
and  by  most  of  the  other  annalists  who  treat  of 
that  period;  but  as  his  adventures  have  been 
amplified  into  a  romantic  tale  in  the  Book  of 
Leinster,*  which  is  copied  by  Keating  and  others, 
the  whole  story,  if  it  were  not  confirmed,  would 
probably  be  regarded  as  a  baseless  legend.  The 
word  Gall  has,  however,  been  used  in  the  Irish 
language  from  the  remotest  antiquity  to  denote  a 
foreigner.  For  some  centuries  before  the  Anglo- 
Norman  invasion  it  was  applied  to  the  Danes, 
and  since  that  period  to  the  English — both  appli- 
cations being  frequent  in  Irish  manuscripts; — 
but  it  is  obvious  that  it  must  have  been  origi- 
nally applied  to  a  colony  of  Gauls,  sufficiently 

*  For  which  see  O'Curry's  Lectures,  p.  25-° 

CHAP,  i.]  Historical  Events.  95 

numerous  and  important  to  fix  the  word  in  the 

We  find  it  stated  in  Cormac's  Glossary  that  the 
word  Gall  was  applied  to  pillar  stones,  because 
they  were  first  erected  in  Ireland  by  the  Galli,  or 
primitive  inhabitants  of  France ;  which  not  only 
corroborates  the  truth  of  the  ancient  tradition  of 
a  Gaulish  colony,  but  proves  also  that  the  word 
Gall  was  then  believed  to  be  derived  from  this 
people.  Thus  the  story  of  Lavra's  conquest  is 
confirmed  by  an  independent  and  unsuspicious 
circumstance ;  and  as  it  is  recorded  by  the  accu- 
rate Tighernach,  and  falls  within  the  limits  of 
authentic  Irish  history  as  fixed  by  that  annalist 
(about  300  years  B.  c.),  there  seems  no  sufficient 
reason  to  doubt  its  truth. 

The  little  island  of  Inchagoill  in  Lough  Corribj 
midway  between  Oughterard  and  Cong,  is  one  of 
the  few  examples  we  have  remaining,  in  which 
the  word  Gall  is  applied  in  its  original  significa- 
tion, i.  e.  to  a  native  of  Gaul ;  and  it  corroborates, 
moreover,  an  interesting  fragment  of  our  ancient 
ecclesiastical  history.  The  name  in  its  present 
form  is  anglicised  from  Inis-an-Ghoill,  the  island 
of  the  Gall,  or  foreigner,  but  its  full  name,  as 
given  by  O'Flaherty  and  others,  is  Inis  an-Ghoill- 
chraibhthiyh  [crauvy],  the  island  of  the  devout 
foreigner.  This  devout  foreigner  was  Lugnat  or 
Lugnaed,  who  according  to  several  ancient  autho- 
rities, was  the  lumaire  or  pilot  of  St.  Patrick,  and 
the  son  of  his  sister  Liemania.  Yielding  to  the 
desire  for  solitude,  so  common  among  the  ecclesi- 
astics of  that  early  period,  he  established  himself, 
by  permission  of  his  uncle,  on  the  shore  of  Lough 
Mask,  and  there  spent  his  life  in  prayer  and 

This  statement,  which  occurs  in  the  Tripartite 

96       Histwical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

Life  of  St.  Patrick,  as  well  as  others  relating  to 
the  family  history  of  the  saint,  was  by  many 
impugned  as  unworthy  of  credit,  till  it  received 
an  unexpected  confirmation  in  the  discovery  on 
the  island  of  Lugnaed's  headstone  by  Dr.  Petrie. 
It  is  a  small  pillar-stone,  four  feet  high,  and  it 
bears  in  old  Roman  characters  this  inscription  : — 
"LiE  LUGNAEDON  MACC  LiMENUEH,"  the  stone  of 
Lugnaed  the  son  of  Limenueh,  which  is  the 
oldest  Roman  letter  inscription  ever  discovered  in 
Ireland.*  Near  it  is  the  ruin  of  a  small  stone 
church  called  Templepatrick,  believed — and  with 
good  reason  according  to  Petrie — to  have  been 
founded  by  St.  Patrick :  if  this  be  so,  it  is  pro- 
bable that  it  is  the  very  church  in  which  Lugnaed 

In  several  old  authorities,  this  saint's  name  is 
written  Lugna  [Loona],  in  which  form  we  find  it 
preserved  in  another  locality.  Four  miles  north- 
north-east  from  Ballinrobe,  in  the  demesne  of 
Ballywalter,  is  an  ancient  church  which  is  be- 
lieved, in  the  traditions  of  the  inhabitants,  to  be 
the  third  church  erected  in  Ireland.  Near  the 
burial-ground  is  a  holy  well,  now  known  by  the 
name  of  Toberloona,  but  which  is  called  Tobar- 
Lugna  in  Mac  Firbis's  Poem  in  the  Book  of  Lecan", 
i.  e.  Lugna's  well.  It  is  well  known  that  among 
St.  Patrick's  disciples,  his  own  nephew  was  the 
only  one  that  bore  the  name  of  Lugna,  and  as 
this  well  is  in  the  very  neighbourhood  where  he 

*  I  find  that  Dr.  W.  Stokes,  in  his  recent  edition  of  Cormac's 
Glossary,  has  given  a  somewhat  different  reading  of  this  in- 
scription, viz.: — "  LIE  LUGU^EDON  MACCI  MENUEH,  "  the  stone 
of  Lugeed,  the  son  of  Menueh.  Whether  this  reading  is  incon- 
sistent with  the  assumption  that  the  stone  marks  the  grave  of 
Lugnat,  St.  Patrick's  nephew,  I  will  not  now  undertake  to 
determine ;  but  the  matter  deserves  investigation. 

HAP.  i.]  Historical  Events.  97 

settled,  it  appears  quite  clear  that  it  was  dedicated 
to  him,  and  commemorates  his  name. 

We  have  at  least  two  interesting  examples  of 
local  names  formed  by  the  word  Gall  as  applied 
to  the  Danes — Fingall  and  Donegal.  A  colony  of 
these  people  settled  in  the  district  lying  north  of 
Dublin,  between  it  and  the  Delvin  river,  which 
in  consequence,  is  called  in  our  authorities  (O'C. 
Cal.,  Wars  of  GG.,  &c.),  Fine- Gall,  the  territory 
or  tribe  of  the  Galls  or  Danes ;  and  the  same 
territory  is  still  well  known  by  the  name  of  Fin- 
gall,  and  the  inhabitants  are  locally  called  Fin- 

Donegal  is  mentioned  in  several  of  our  Annals, 
and  always  in  the  form  of  Dun-na-nGall,  the 
fortress  of  the  foreigners.  These  foreigners  must 
have  been  Danes,  and  the  name  was  no  doubt 
applied  to  an  earthen  dun  occupied  by  them  ante- 
rior to  the  twelfth  century ;  for  we  have  direct 
testimony  that  they  had  a  settlement  there  at  an 
early  period,  and  the  name  is  older  than  the 
Anglo-Norman  invasion.  Dr.  Petrie  quotes  an 
ancient  Irish  poem  (Irish  Penny  Journal,  p.  185), 
written  in  the  tenth  century,  by  the  Tyrconnellian 
bard,  Flann  mac  Lonan,  in  which  it  is  stated  that 
Egnahan,  the  father  of  Donnel,  from  whom  the 
O'Donnells  derive  their  name,  gave  his  three 
beautiful  daughters,  Duvlin,  Bebua,  and  Bebinn, 
in  marriage  to  three  Danish  princes,  Caithis, 
Torges,  and  Tor,  with  the  object  of  obtaining 
their  friendship,  and  to  secure  his  territory  from 
their  depredations  ;  and  the  marriages  were  cele- 
brated at  Donegal,  where  Egnahan  then  resided 
But  though  we  have  thus  evidence  that  a  fort 
existed  there  from  a  very  remote  time,  it  is  pretty 
certain  that  a  castle  was  not  erected  there  by  the 
O'Donnells  till  the  year  1474. 

VOL.  i.  8 

98       Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

The  Annals  of  Ulster  relate  that  the  Danish 
fortress  was  burned  in  1159,  by  Murtough 
M'Loughlin,  king  of  the  Northern  Hy  Neill: 
not  a  vestige  of  it  now  remains,  but  O'Donovan 
considers  it  likely  that  it  was  situated  at  a  ford 
which  crossed  the  river  Esk,  immediately  west  of 
the  old  castle,  and  which  the  Four  Masters  at 
1419  call  Ath-na-nGall,  the  ford  of  the  foreigners. 

There  are  several  other  places  through  the 
country  called  Donegal  or  Dungall,  having  the 
same  general  meaning;  we  have  no  evidence 
to  show  whether  the  foreigners  were  Danes  or 
English ;  possibly  they  were  neither.  Dungall 
in  the  parish  of  Kirkinriola  in  Antrim,  takes  its 
name  from  one  of  the  grandest  circular  forts  in 
Ireland,  which  is  certainly  far  older  than  either 
Danes  or  English. 

There  are  great  numbers  of  names  in  all  parts 
of  Ireland,  in  which  this  word  Gall  commemorates 
English  settlements.  Galbally  in  Limerick  is 
called  in  the  Four  Masters,  Gfallbhaile,  English- 
town,  and  it  probably  got  its  name  from  the 
Fitzgeralds,  who  settled  there  at  an  early  period ; 
and  there  are  besides,  a  dozen  other  places  of  the 
same  name,  ten  of  them  being  in  Tyrone  and 
Wexford.  Galwally  in  Down,  Galvally  in  Derry, 
and  Gallavally  in  Kerry  are  all  the  same  name, 
but  the  b  is  aspirated  as  it  ought  to  be. 

Ballynagall,  Ballynagaul,  and  Ballygall,  all 
townland  names  of  frequent  occurrence,  mean  also 
the  town  of  the  Englishmen  ;  and  I  am  of  opinion 
that  Gaulstown,  a  name  common  in  Kilkenny  and 
Meath,  is  a  translation  of  Ballynagall.  The  ter- 
minations^//, nagall,  gill,  and  guile,  are  exceedingly 
common  all  over  Ireland ;  the  two  former  generally 
mean  "of  the  Englishmen,"  and  the  two  latter 
'  of  the  Englishman  ; "  Clonegall  in  Carlow,  and 

CHAP,  i.j  Historical  Events.  99 

Clongall  in  Meath,  signify  the  Englishmen's 
meadow ;  Moneygall  in  King's  County,  the  shrub- 
bery of  the  strangers  ;  Clongill  in  Meath,  the 
Englishman's  meadow ;  Ballinguile  and  Ballyguile 
in  Cork  and  Wicklow,  the  town  of  the  English- 

Gallbhuaile  [Galvoola]  is  a  name  that  often 
occurs  in  different  anglicised  forms,  meaning 
English-booley,  i.e.  a  booley  or  dairy  place  belong- 
ing to  English  people.  In  Tipperary  it  gives 
name  to  the  parish  of  Galbooly  ;  in  Donegal  it  is 
made  Galwolie  ;  while  in  other  places  we  find  it 
changed  to  Galboley  and  Galboola. 

The  mouth  of  the  Malahide  river,  near  Dublin, 
is  called  by  the  strange  name  of  Muldowney  among 
the  people  of  the  locality,  a  name  which,  when 
fully  developed  under  the  microscope  of  history, 
will  remind  us  of  a  colony  still  more  ancient  than 
those  I  have  mentioned.  The  Firbolgs,  in  their 
descent  on  Ireland,  divided  themselves  into  three 
bodies  under  separate  leaders,  and  landed  at  three 
different  places.  The  men  of  one  of  these  hordes 
were  called  Firdomnainn  [Firdownan],  or  the  men 
of  the  deep  pits,  and  the  legendary  histories  say 
that  they  received  this  name  from  the  custom  of 
digging  deeply  in  cultivating  the  soil. 

The  place  where  this  section  landed  was  for 
many  ages  afterwards  called  Inver-Domnainn 
(Book  of  Leinster),  the  river  mouth  of  the  Dom- 
naniis,  and  it  has  been  identified,  beyond  all  dispute, 
with  the  little  bay  of  Malahide ;  the  present  vulgar 
name  Muldowney,  is  merely  a  corruption  of  Maeil- 
Domnainn,  in  which  the  word  maeil,  a  whirlpool, 
is  substituted  for  the  inbher  of  the  ancient  name. 
Thus  this  fugitive-looking  name,  so  little  remark- 
able that  it  is  not  known  beyond  the  immediate 
district,  with  apparently  none  of  the  marks  of  age 

100     Historical,  and  Legendary  Names.      [PART  n. 

or  permanency,  can  boast  of  an  antiquity  "beyond 
the  misty  space  of  twice  a  thousand  years,"  and 
preserves  the  memory  of  an  event  otherwise  for- 
gotten by  the  people,  and  regarded  by  many  as 
mythological ;  while,  at  the  same  time,  it  affords 
a  most  instructive  illustration  of  the  tenacity  with 
which  loose  fragments  of  language  often  retain 
the  footmarks  of  former  generations. 

According  to  our  early  histories,  which  in  this 
particular  are  confirmed  by  Bede  (Lib.  I.,  Cap.  I.), 
the  Picts  landed  and  remained  some  time  in  Ireland, 
on  their  way  to  their  final  settlement  in  Scotland. 
In  the  Irish  Annals,  they  are  usually  called 
Cruithne  [Cruhne],  which  is  also  the  term  used 
by  Adamnan,  and  which  is  considered  to  be 
synonymous  with  the  word  Picti,  i.e.  painted, 
from  cruith,  colour.  After  their  establishment 
in  Scotland,  they  maintained  intimate  relations 
with  Ireland,  and  the  ancient  Dalaradia,  which 
extended  from  Newry  to  the  Ravel  "Water  in. 
Antrim,  is  often  called  in  our  Annals  the  country 
of  the  Crutheni.  It  is  probable  that  a  remnant 
of  the  original  colony  settled  there ;  but  we  know 
besides  that  its  inhabitants  were  descended  through 
the  female  line,  from  the  Picts ;  for  Irial  Glunmore 
(son  of  Conall  Carnagh),  the  progenitor  of  these 
people,  was  married  to  the  daughter  of  Eochy, 
king  of  the  Picts  of  Scotland. 

Several  places  in  the  north  of  Ireland  retain 
the  name  of  this  ancient  people.  Duncrun,  in  the 
parish  of  Magilligan,  Derry,  was  in  old  days  a 
place  of  some  notoriety,  and  contained  a  church 
erected  by  St.  Patrick,  and  a  shrine  of  St.  Columba ; 
it  must  have  originally  belonged  to  a  tribe  of  Picts, 
for  it  is  known  in  the  Annals  by  the  name  of  Dun- 
Cruithne  (Four  Masters),  which  Colgan  (Tr.  Th., 
p.  181,  n.  187),  translates  drx  Cruthcenorum,  the 

CHAP.  T.]  Historical  Events.  101 

fortress  of  the  Cruthnians.  In  the  parish  of 
Macosquin,  in  the  same  county,  there  is  a  town- 
land  called  Drumcroon,  and  one  in  the  parish  of 
Devenish,  Fermanagh,  with  the  name  of  Drum- 
croohen,  both  of  which  signify  the  Picts'  ridge. 

After  the  Milesian  conquest  of  Ireland,  the 
vanquished  races,  consisting  chiefly  of  Firbolgs 
and  Dedannans,  were  kept  in  a  state  of  subjection 
by  the  conquerors,  and  oppressed  with  heavy 
exactions,  which  became  at  last  so  intolerable 
that  they  rose  in  rebellion,  early  in  the  first 
century,  succeeded  in  overthrowing  for  a  time  the 
Milesian  power,  and  placed  one  of  their  own  chiefs, 
Carbery  Kincat,  on  the  throne.  After  the  death 
of  this  king  the  Milesian  monarchy  was  restored 
through  the  magnanimity  of  his  son  Moran. 
These  helot  races,  who  figure  conspicuously  in 
early  Irish  history,  are  known  by  the  name  of 
Aitheach-Tuatha  [Ahathooha],  which  signifies 
literally,  plebeian  races ;  and  they  are  considered 
by  some  to  be  the  same  as  the  Attacotti,  a  tribe 
who  are  mentioned  by  Ammianus  Marcellinus  and 
by  St.  Jerome,  as  aiding  the  Picts  and  Scots  against 
the  Britons. 

In  the  barony  of  Carra,  county  of  Mayo,  there 
is  a  parish  called  Touaghty,  preserving  the  name 
of  the  ancient  territory  of  Tuath-Aitheachta  [Thoo- 
ahaghta],  so  written  by  MacFirbisin  "Hy  Fiach- 
rach,"  which  received  its  name  from  having  been 
anciently  occupied  by  a  tribe  of  Firbolgs:  the 
name  signifies  the  tuath  or  district  of  the  Attacotti 
or  plebeians. 

To  travellers  on  the  Great  Southern  and  Western 
Railway,  the  grassy  hill  of  Knocklong,  crowned  by 
its  castle  ruins,  forms  a  conspicuous  object,  lying 
immediately  south  of  the  Knocklong  station.  This 
hill  was,  many  ages  ago,  the  scene  of  a  warlike 

102     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  IL 

gathering,  the  memory  of  which  is  still  preserved 
in  the  name. 

In  the  middle  of  the  third  century,  Cormac  mac 
Art,  monarch  of  Ireland,  undertook  an  expedition 
against  Fiacha  Muilleathan  [Mullahan],  king  of 
Munster,  to  reduce  him  to  submission,  and  lay  the 
province  under  additional  tribute  ;  and  his  army 
marched  from  Tara  unopposed,  till  they  pitched 
their  tents  on  this  hill,  which  was  up  to  that  time 
called  Druim-damhghaire  [da vary],  the  bill  of  the 
oxen.  The  Munster  king  marched  to  oppose  him, 
and  encamped  on  the  slope  of  the  opposite  hill, 
then  called  Slieve  Claire,  but  now  Slievereagh  (grey 
mountain),  lying  south  of  Knocklong,  and  north- 
east of  Kilfinane. 

After  a  protracted  struggle,  and  many  combats 
in  the  intervening  plain,  Cormac,  defeated  and 
baffled,  was  forced  to  retreat  without  effecting  his 
object.  He  was  pursued,  with  great  loss,  as  far 
as  Ossory,  and  obliged  by  Fiacha  to  give  security 
that  he  would  repair  the  injury  done  to  Munstel 
by  this  expedition.  And  from  this  event  the  hill 
of  Knocklong  received  its  name,  which  is  in  Irish, 
Cnoc-luinge,  the  hill  of  the  encampment. 

These  are  the  bare  historical  facts.  In  the  Book 
of  Lecan  there  is  a  full  narrative  of  the  invasion 
and  repulse ;  and  it  forms  the  subject  of  a  histori- 
cal tale  called  the  Forbais  or  Siege  of  Dmim,' 
damhghaire,  a  copy  of  which  is  found  in  the  Book 
of  Lismore  Like  all  historical  romances,  it  is 
embellished  by  exaggeration,  and  by  the  introduc- 
tion of  fabulous  circumstances ;  and  the  druids  of 
both  armies  are  made  to  play  a  conspicuous  part 
in  the  whole  transaction,  by  the  exercise  of  their 
magical  powers. 

It  is  related  that  Cormac's  druids  dried  up,  by 
their  incantations,  the  springs,  lakes,  and  rivers  of 

CHAP,  i,}  Historical  Events.  103 

the  district,  so  that  the  men  and  horses  of,  the 
Munster  army  were  dying  of  thirst.  Fiacha,  in 
this  great  distress,  sent  for  Mogh-Ruith  [Mo-rih], 
the  most  celebrated  druid  of  his  time,  who  lived 
at  Dairbhre  [Darrery],  now  Valentia  island  in 
Kerry;  and  he  came,  and  the  men  of  Munster 
besought  him  to  relieve  them  from  the  plague  of 

Mogh-Ruith  called  far  his  disciple  Canvore,  and 
said  to  him,  "  Bring  me  my  magical  spear  ;"  and 
his  magical  spear  was  brought,  and  he  cast  it  high 
in  the  air,  and  told  Canvore  to  dig  up  the  ground 
where  it  fell.  "  What  shall  be  my  reward?"  said 
Canvore.  "  Your  name  shall  be  for  ever  on  the 
stream,"  said  Mogh-Ruith.  Then  Canvore  dug 
the  ground,  and  the  living  water  burst  asunder 
the  spells  that  bound  it,  and  gushed  forth  from 
the  earth,  in  a  great  stream ;  and  the  multitudes 
of  men  and  horses  and  cattle  threw  themselves 
upon  it,  and  drank  till  they  were  satisfied.  Cormac 
was  then  attacked  with  renewed  vigour,  and  his 
army  routed  with  great  slaughter. 

I  visited  this  well  a  few  years  ago.  It  lies  on 
the  road  side,  in  the  townland  of  Glenbrohane, 
near  the  boundary  of  the  parish  of  Emlygrennan, 
three  miles  to  the  south  of  Knocklong;  and  it 
springs  from  a  chasm,  evidently  artificial,  dug  in 
the  side  of  Slievereagh,  forming  at  once  a  very 
fine  stream.  It  is  still  well  known  in  the  district 
by  the  name  of  Tober  Canvore,  Canvore' s  well,  as 
I  found  by  a  very  careful  inquiry ;  so  that  Canvore 
has  received  his  reward. 

That  the  Munster  forces  may  have  been  oppressed 
by  an  unusual  drought  which  dried  up  the  springs 
round  their  encampment,  is  nothing  very  impro- 
bable ;  and  if  we  only  suppose  that  the  druid  pos- 
sessed some  of  the  skill  in  discovering  water  with 

104      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

which  many  people  in  our  own  day  are  gifted,  we 
shall  not  find  it  difficult  to  believe  that  this  mar- 
vellous narrative  may  be  in  the  main  true ;  for 
all  unusual  occurrences  were  in  those  days  ac- 
counted supernatural.  And  this  view  receives 
some  confirmation  from  the  prevalence  of  the 
tradition  at  the  present  day,  as  well  as  from  the 
curious  circumstance,  that  the  well  is  still  called 
Tober  Canvore. 

There  is  a  village  on  the  east  side  of  the  rivei 
Moy,  a  kind  of  suburb  of  Ballina,  called  Ardnarea. 
a  name  which  discloses  a  dark  tale  of  treachery 
and  murder ;  it  was  originally  applied  to  the  hill 
immediately  south  of  the  village,  which  is  now 
called  Castle  Hill,  from  a  castle  that  has  long  since 
disappeared.  The  event  that  gave  origin  to  this 
name  is  very  fully  related  by  Mac  Firbis  in  his 
account  of  the  Tribes  and  Customs  of  the  Hy 
Fiachrach,  and  the  same  story  is  told  in  the  Dinn- 
senchus.  The  persons  concerned  are  all  well- 
known  characters,  and  the  event  is  far  within  the 
horizon  of  authentic  history. 

Guaire  Aidhne  *£Ainy]  was  king  of  Connaught 
in  the  seventh  century — a  king  whose  name  has 
passed  into  a  proverb  among  the  Irish  for  his  hos- 
pitality. Though  a  powerful  and  popular  monarch, 
he  was  not  the  true  heir  to  the  throne ;  the  right- 
ful heir  was  a  man  who  in  his  youth  had  aban- 
doned the  world,  and  entered  the  priesthood,  and 
who  was  now  bishop  of  Kilmore-Moy ;  this  was 
Cellach,  or  Kellagh,  the  son  of  the  last  monarch, 
Owen  Bel,  and  fourth  in  descent  from  the  cele- 
brated Dathi.  Cellach  was  murdered  at  the  in- 
stigation of  Guara,  by  four  ecclesiastical  students — 
the  four  Maels,  as  they  were  called,  because  the 
names  of  all  began  with  the  syllable  Mael — who 
were  under  the  bishop's  tuition,  and  who,  it  appears 

CHAP  i.]  Historical  Events.  1 05 

by  another  account,  were  his  own  foster-brothers. 
The  bishop's  brother,  however,  soon  after  pursued 
and  captured  the  murderers,  and  brought  them  in 
chains  to  the  hill  overlooking  the  Moy,  which 
was  up  to  that  time  called  Tulach-na-faircsiona 
[Tullanafarkshina],  the  hill  of  the  prospect,  where 
he  hanged  them  all ;  and  from  this  circumstance 
the  place  took  the  name  of  Ard-na-riaghadh  [Ard- 
narea],  the  hill  of  the  executions. 

They  were  buried  at  the  other  side  of  the  river, 
a  little  south  of  the  present  town  of  Ballina,  and 
the  place  was  called  Ard-na-Mael,  the  hill  of  the 
(four)  Maels.  The  monument  erected  over  them 
remains  to  this  day  ;  it  is  a  cromlech,  well  known 
to  the  people  of  Ballina,  and  now  commonly  called 
the  Table  of  the  Giants.  The  name  Ard-na-Mael 
is  obsolete,  the  origin  of  the  cromlech  is  forgotten, 
and  bishop  Cellach  and  his  murderers  have  long 
since  ceased  to  be  remembered  in  the  traditions  of 
the  people. 

When  we  consider  how  prominently  the  Danes 
figure  in  our  history,  it  appears  a  matter  of  some 
surprise  that  they  have  left  so  few  traces  of  their 
presence.  We  possess  very  few  structures  that  can 
be  proved  to  be  Danish  ;  and  that  sure  mark  of 
conquest,  the  change  of  local  names,  has  occurred 
in  only  a  very  few  instances  :  for  there  are  little 
more  than  a  dozen  places  in  Ireland  bearing  Danish 
names  at  the  present  day,  and  these  are  nearly  all 
on  or  near  the  east  coast. 

Worsae  (p.  71)  gives  a  table  of  1373  Danish  and 
Norwegian  names  in  the  middle  and  northern 
counties  of  England,  ending  in  thorpe,  by,  thwaite, 
with,  toft,  beck,  nces,  ey,  dale,  force,  fell,  tarn,  and 
haugh.  We  have  only  a  few  Danish  terminations, 
&sford,  which  occurs  four  times  ;  ey,  three  times  ; 
ster,  three  times ;  and  ore,  which  we  find  in  one 

106       Historical  and  Legendary  Names.   [PART  n. 

name,  not  noticed  at  all  by  Worsae ;  and  in  contrast 
with  1373  names  in  one  part  of  England,  we  have 
only  about  fifteen  in  Ireland,  almost  all  confined 
to  one  particular  district.  This  appears  to  me  to 
afford  a  complete  answer  to  the  statement  which 
we  sometimes  see  made,  that  the  Danes  conquered 
the  country,  and  their  chiefs  ruled  over  it  as 

The  truth  is  the  Danes  never,  except  in  a  few 
of  the  maritime  towns,  had  any  permanent  settle- 
ments in  Ireland,  and  even  there  their  wealth  was 
chiefly  derived  from  trade  and  commerce,  and  they 
seem  to  have  had  only  very  seldom  any  territorial 
possessions.  Their  mission  was  rather  to  destroy 
than  to  build  up ;  wherever  they  settled  on  the 
coast,  they  were  chiefly  occupied  either  in  preda- 
tory inroads,  or  in  defending  their  fortresses  against 
the  neighbouring  Irish ;  they  took  no  permanent 
hold  on  the  country ;  and  their  prominence  in  our 
annals  is  due  to  their  fierce  and  dreadful  ravages, 
from  which  scarcely  any  part  of  the  country  was 
free,  and  the  constant  warfare  maintained  for  three 
hundred  years  between  them  and  the  natives. 

The  only  names  I  can  find  that  are  wholly  or 
partly  Danish  are  Wexford,  Waterford,  Carling- 
ford,  Strangford  (Lough),  Olderfleet,  Carnsore 
Point,  Ireland's  Eye,  Lambay  Island,  Dalkey, 
Howth,  Leixlip  and  Oxmantown  ;  to  these  may  be 
added  the  Lax- weir  on  the  Shannon,  the  termi- 
nation ster  in  the  names  of  three  of  the  provinces, 
the  second  syllables  of  such  names  as  Fingall  and 
Donegal ;  probably  Wicklow  and  Arklow,  and  the 
s  prefixed  to  some  names  near  the  eastern  coast 
(for  which  see  p.  65). 

The  termination  ford,  in  the  first  four  names  is 
the  well-known  northern  word  fiord,  an  inlet  of 
the  sea.  Waterford,  Wexford,  and  Strangford 

CHAP.  T.]  Historical  Events.  107 

are  probably  altogether  Danish  ;  the  first  two  are 
called  respectively  by  early  English  writers  Vadre> 
fiord  and  Weisford.  The  Danes  had  a  settlement 
somewhere  near  the  shore  of  Strangf ord  Lough,  in 
the  ninth  and  tenth  centuries  ;  and  the  Galls  of 
Lough  Cuan  (its  ancient  and  present  Irish  name)  are 
frequently  referred  to  in  our  Annals.  It  was 
these  who  gave  it  the  very  appropriate  name  of 
Strangf  ord,  which  means  strong  fiord,  from  the 
well-known  tidal  currents  at  the  entrance,  which 
render  its  navigation  so  dangerous. 

The  usual  Irish  name  of  Carlingford,  as  we 
find  it  in  our  Annals,  is  Cairlinn ;  so  that  the  full 
name,  as  it  now  stands,  signifies  the  fiord  of 
Cairlinn.  In  O'Clery's  Calendar  it  is  called 
Snamh-ech,  the  swimming- ford  of  the  horses; 
while  in  "  "Wars  of  GG,"  and  several  other  autho- 
rities, it  is  called  Snamh-Aighnech. 

The  last  syllable  of  the  name  of  Olderfleet 
Castle,  which  stands  on  the  little  neck  of  land 
called  the  Curran,  near  Larne  in  Antrim,  is  a 
corruption  of  the  same  word  fiord  ;  and  the  name 
was  originally  applied,  not  to  the  castle,  but  to 
the  harbour.  One  of  the  oldest  known  forms  of 
the  name  is  Wulfrichf ord ;  and  the  manner  in 
which  it  gradually  settled  down  to  "  Olderfleet " 
will  be  seen  in  the  following  forms,  found  in 
various  records : —  Wulvricheford,  Wokingis- 
f yrth,  "Wolderf  rith,  Wolverflete,  Ulderfleet,  Older- 
fleet.  It  is  probable,  as  Dr.  Reeves  remarks,  that 
in  the  first  part  of  all  these,  is  disguised  the 
ancient  Irish  name  of  the  Larne  water,  viz., 
Ollorbha  [Ollarva]  ;  and  that  the  various  forms 
given  above  were  only  imperfect  attempts  at  re- 
presenting the  sound  of  Ollarva-fiord. 

Carnsore  Point  in  Wexford  is  known  in  Irish 
by  the  simple  name  Cam,  i.  e.  a  monumental  heap. 

108      Histo  rical  and  Legendary  Names.    £PART  n. 

The  meaning  of  the  termination  will  be  rendered 
obvious  by  the  following  passage  from  Wbrsae  : — 
"  On  the  extremity  of  the  tongue  of  land  which 
borders  on  the  north  the  entrance  of  the  Humber, 
there  formerly  stood  a  castle  called  Ravensore, 
raven's  point.  Ore  is,  as  is  well  known,  the  old 
Scandinavian  name  for  the  sandy  point  of  a  pro- 
montory" (p.  65).  The  ore  in  Carnsore,  is  evi- 
dently the  same  word,  and  the  name  written  in 
full  would  be  Cam's  ore,  the  "  ore "  or  sandy 
point  of  the  Carn. 

Ptolemy  calls  this  cape  Hieron  Akron,  i.  e.  the 
Sacred  Promontory;  and  Camden  (Britannia," 
Ed.  1594,  p.  659),  in  stating  this  fact,  says  he  has 
no  doubt  but  that  the  native  Irish  name  bore  the 
same  meaning.  This  conjecture  is  probably  well 
founded,  though  I  cannot  find  any  name  now  ex- 
isting near  the  place  with  this  signification. 
Camden,  however,  in  order  to  show  the  reasonable- 
ness of  his  opinion,  states  that  Bannow,  the  name 
of  a  town  nearly  twenty  miles  from  it,  where  the 
English  made  their  first  descent,  signifies  sacred 
in  the  Irish  language.  The  Irish  participle  bean- 
naighte  [bannihe]  means  blessed,  and  this  is 
obviously  the  word  Camden  had  in  view ;  but  it 
has  no  connection  in  meaning  with  Bannow.  The 
harbour  where  Robert  Fitzstephen  landed  was 
called  in  Irish  Cuan-an-bhainbh  (O'Flaherty,  lar 
Connaught)  the  harbour  of  the  bonnwe  or  sucking 
pig  ;  and  the  town  has  preserved  the  latter  part  of 
the  name  changed  to  Bannow. 

"It  is  doubtful  whether  Wicklow  derives  its 
name  from  the  Norwegians,  though  it  is  not  im- 
probable that  it  did,  as  in  old  documents  it  is  called 
Wykynglo,  Wygyngelo,  and  Wykinlo,  which  re- 
mind us  of  the  Scandinavian  vig,  a  bay,  or  Viking " 
(Worsae,  p.  325).  Its  Irish  name  is  Kilmantan, 

CHAP,  i.]  Historical  Events.  109 

St.  Mantan's  church.  This  saint,  according  ,  to 
Mac  Geoghegan  (Annals  of  Clonmacnoise),  and 
other  authorities,  was  one  of  St.  Patrick's  com- 
panions, who  had  his  front  teeth  knocked  out  by 
a  blow  of  a  stone  from  one  of  the  barbarians  who 
opposed  the  saint's  landing  in  Wicklow  ;  hence  he 
was  called  Mantan,  or  the  toothless,  and  the 
church  which  was  afterwards  erected  there  was 
called  after  him,  Cill-Mantain  (Four  Mast.) .  It  is 
worthy  of  remark  that  the  word  mantach  [moun- 
thagh] — derived  from  mant,  the  gum — is  still 
used  in  the  South  of  Ireland  to  denote  a  person 
who  has  lost  the  front  teeth. 

Leixlip  is  wholly  a  Danish  name,  old  Norse 
Laxhlaup,  i.  e.  salmon  leap  :  this  name  (which  is 
probably  a  translation  from  the  Irish)  is  derived 
from  the  well  known  cataract  on  the  Liffey,  still 
called  the  Salmon  Leap,  a  little  above  the  village. 
Giraldus  Cambrensis  (Top.  Hib.  II.,  41),  after 
speaking  of  the  fish  leaping  up  the  cataract, 
says: — "Hence  the  place  derives  its  name  of 
Saltus  Salmonis  (Salmon  Leap)."  From  this  word 
salt,  a  leap,  the  baronies  of  Salt  in  the  county 
Kildare,  have  taken  their  name.  According  to 
Worsae,  the  word  lax,  a  salmon,  is  very  common 
in  the  local  names  of  Scotland,  and  we  have 
another  example  of  it  in  the  Lax-weir,  i.  e.  Salmon 
weir  on  the  Shannon,  near  Limerick. 

The  original  name  of  Ireland's  eye  was  Inis- 
Ereann ;  it  is  so  called  in  Dinnsenchus,  and  the 
meaning  of  the  name  is,  the  island  of  Eire  or 
Eria,  who,  according  to  the  same  authority,  was 
a  woman.  It  was  afterwards  called  Inis-mac- 
Nessan  (Four  Mast.),  from  the  three  sons  of 
Nessan,  a  prince  of  the  royal  family  of  Leinster, 
namely,  Dicholla,  Munissa,  and  Nadsluagh,  who 
erected  a  church  on  it  in  the  seventh  century,  the 

110     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.    [PART  n. 

ruins  of  which  remain  to  this  day.  They  are 
commemorated  in  O'Clery's  Calendar,  in  the 
following  words : — "  The  three  sons  of  Nesan,  of 
Inis  Faithlenn,  i.  e.  Muinissa,  Nesslugh,  and  Dui- 
choill  Derg ; "  from  which  it  appears  that  Inis 
Faithlenn,  or,  as  it  would  be  now  pronounced, 
Innisfallen,  was  another  ancient  name  for  the 
island ;  this  is  also  the  name  of  a  celebrated  island 
in  the  lower  lake  of  Killarney  (Inis  Faithlenn, 
Book  of  Leinster) ;  and  in  both  cases  it  signifies 
the  Island  of  Fathlenn,  a  man's  name,  formerly  of 
common  occurrence. 

The  present  name,  Ireland's  Eye,  is  an  at- 
tempted translation  of  Inis-Ereann,  for  the  trans- 
lators understood  Ereann  to  be  the  genitive  case 
of  Eire,  Ireland,  as  it  has  the  same  form  ;  accord- 
ingly they  made  it  Ireland's  Ey  (Ireland's  island, 
instead  of  Eria's  island),  which  in  modern  times 
has  been  corrupted  to  Ireland's  Eye.  Even  Ussher 
was  deceived  by  this,  for  he  calls  the  island 
Oculus  HibernicB.  The  name  of  this  little  island 
has  met  with  the  fate  of  the  Highlander's  ances- 
tral knife,  which  at  one  time  had  its  haft  renewed, 
and  at  another  time  its  blade  :  one  set  of  people 
converted  the  name  of  Eire,  a  woman,  to  Ireland, 
but  correctly  translated  Inis  to  ey  ;  the  succeeding 
generations  accepted  what  the  others  corrupted, 
and  corrupted  the  correct  part;  between  both, 
not  a  vestige  of  the  ancient  name  remains  in  the 

Eire  or  Eri  was  formerly  very  common  in  this 
country  as  a  woman's  name,  and  we  occasionally 
find  it  forming  part  of  other  local  names ;  there 
are,  for  instance,  two  places  in  Antrim  called 
Carnearny,  in  each  of  which  a  woman  named 
Eire  must  have  been  buried,  for  the  Four  Masters 
write  the  name  Carn-Ereann,  Eire's  monumental 

CHAP,  i.]  Historical  Events.  Ill 

Lambay  is  merely  an  altered  form  of  Lambrey, 
i,  e.  Lamb-island ;  a  name  which  no  doubt  origi- 
nated in  the  practice  of  sending  over  sheep  from 
the  mainland  in  the  spring,  and  allowing  them  to 
yean  on  the  island,  and  remain  there,  lambs  and 
all,  during  the  summer.  Its  ancient  Irish  name 
was  Rechru,  which  is  the  form  used  by  Adamnan, 
as  well  as  in  the  oldest  Irish  documents  ;  but  in 
later  authorities  it  is  written  Eechra  and  Reachra. 
In  the  genitive  and  oblique  cases,  it  is  Rechrinn, 
Reachrainn,  &c.,  as,  for  example,  in  Leabhar 
Breac: — "  Fothaighis  Colam-cille  eclats  irrachraind 
oirthir  Bregh,"  "Columkill  erects  a  church  on 
Rachra  in  the  east  of  Bregia"  (O'Don.  Gram.,  p. 
155).  So  also  in  the  poem  on  the  history  of  the 
Picts  printed  from  the  Book  of  Ballymote  by 
Dr.  Todd  (Irish  Nennius,  p.  127)  :— 

"From  the  south  (i.  e.  from  near  the  mouth  of  the  Slaney) 

was  Ulfa  sent, 

After  the  decease  of  his  friends ; 
In  Rachra,  in  Bregia  (In  Itachrand  im  Breagaibh) 
He  was  utterly  destroyed." 

Though  the  name  Rachra,  as  applied  to  the 
island,  is  wholly  lost,  it  is  still  preserved,  though 
greatly  smoothed  down  by  the  friction  of  long 
ages,  in  the  name  of  Portraine,  the  parish  ad- 
joining it  on  the  mainland.  In  a  grant  to  Christ 
Church,  made  in  the  year  1308,  the  island  is  called 
Rechen,  and  the  parish  to  which  it  belonged, 
Port-rahern,  which  is  merely  an  adaptation  of  the 
old  spelling  Port-Rachrann,  and  very  well  repre- 
sents its  pronunciation  ;  in  the  lapse  of  500  years 
Port-rahern  has  been  worn  down  to  Portraine 
(Reeves).  The  point  of  land  there  was,  in  old 
times,  a  place  of  embarkation  for  the  island  and 
elsewhere,  and  this  is  the  tradition  of  the  inhabi- 

112     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

tants  to  the  present  day,  who  still  show  some 
remains  of  the  old  landing-place  ;  hence  the  name 
Port-Rachrann ;  the  port  or  landing-place  of 

Other  islands  round  the  coast  were  called  Rachra 
which  are  now  generally  called  Rathlin,  from  the 
genitive  form  Machrann,  by  a  change  from  r  to  i 
(see  pages  34  and  48).  The  use  of  the  genitive 
for  the  nominative  must  have  begun  very  early, 
for  in  the  Welsh,  "Brut  y  Tywysogion"  or  Chro- 
nicle of  the  Chieftains,  we  read  "Ac  y  distrywyd 
Rechrenn,"  "  and  (the  Danes)  destroyed  Rechrenn" 
(Todd,  Wars  of  GGK,  Introd.,  p.  xxxii). 

The  best  known  of  these  is  Rathlin  on  the 
Antrim  coast,  which  Ptolemy  calls  Rikina,  and 
whose  name  has  been  modified  in  various  ways  by 
foreign  and  English  writers ;  but  the  natives  still 
call  it  Raghery,  which  correctly  represents  the 
old  nominative  form.  Ussher  (Br.  Ecc.  Ant.,  c. 
17)  says :  "  our  Irish  antiquaries  call  this  island 
Ro-chrinne,"  and  he  states  further,  that  it  was  so 
called  from  the  great  quantity  of  trees  with  which 
it  was  formerly  covered.  The  island,  however, 
was  never  called  Rochrinne,  but  Rachra,  in  which 
no  n  appears,  which  puts  out  of  the  question  its 
derivation  from  crann  a  tree. 

Dalkey  is  called  in  Irish,  Delginis  (O'Cl.  Cal., 
Four  Masters,  &c.),  thorn  island.  The  Danes 
who  had  a  fortress  on  it  in  the  tenth  century, 
called  it  Dalk-ei,  which  has  the  same  meaning  as 
the  Irish  name,  for  the  Danish  word  dalk  signifies 
a  thorn:  the  present  name  Dalkey  is  not  much 
changed  from  Delginis,  but  the  I,  which  is  now 
silent,  was  formerly  pronounced.  It  is  curious 
that  there  has  been  a  fortress  on  this  island  from 
the  remotest  antiquity  to  the  present  day.  Our 
early  chronicles  record  that  Seadhgha  [sha],  one 

CHAP,  i.]  Historical  Events.  113 

of  the  chiefs  of  the  Milesian  colony,  erected  the 
Dun  of  Delginis ;  this  was  succeeded  by *  the 
Danish  fort ;  and  it  is  now  occupied  by  a  martello 

Oxmantown  or  Ostmantown,  now  a  part  of  the 
city  of  Dublin,  was  so  called  because  the  Danes 
or  Ostmen  (i.  e.  eastmen)  built  there  a  town  of 
their  own,  and  fortified  it  with  ditches  and  walls. 

According  to  Worsae  (p.  230),  the  termination 
ster  in  the  names  of  three  of  the  provinces  is  the 
Scandinavian  stadr,  a  place,  which  has  been  added 
to  the  old  Irish  names.  Leinster  is  the  place  (or 
province)  of  Laighen  or  Layn;  Ulster  is  con- 
tracted from  Ula-ster,  the  Irish  name  Uladh  being 
pronounced  Ulla ;  and  Munster  from  Moon-ster, 
or  Mounster  (which  is  the  form  found  in  a  State 
paper  of  1515),  the  first  syllable  representing  the 
pronunciation  of  the  Irish  Humhan. 

Many  of  the  acts  of  our  early  apostles  are  pre- 
served in  imperishable  remembrance,  in  the  names 
of  localities  where  certain  remarkable  transactions 
took  place,  connected  with  their  efforts  to  spread 
the  Gospel.  Of  these  I  will  give  a  few  examples, 
but  I  shall  defer  to  another  chapter  the  considera- 
tion of  those  places  which  commemorate  the 
names  of  saints. 

Saul,  the  name  of  a  village  and  parish  near 
Downpatrick,  preserves  the  memory  of  St.  Patrick's 
first  triumph  in  the  work  of  conversion.  Dichu, 
the  prince  of  the  district,  who  hospitably  enter- 
tained the  saint  and  his  companions,  was  his  first 
convert  in  Ireland ;  and  the  chief  made  him  a 
present  of  his  barn,  to  be  used  temporarily  as  a 
church.  On  the  site  of  this  barn  a  church  was 
subsequently  erected,  and  as  its  direction  hap- 
pened to  be  north  and  south,  the  church  was  also 
placed  north  and  south,  instead  of  the  usual  direc- 
VOL.  i,  0 

114     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

tion,  east  and  west.  On  this  transaction  the 
following  are  Ussher's  words: — "Which  place, 
from  the  name  of  that  church,  is  called  in  Scotic 
to  this  day,  Sabhatt  Patrick ;  in  Latin,  Zabulum 
Patricii  vel  Horreum  Patricii"  (Patrick's  barn). 
It  is  still  called  in  Irish  Sabhall,  which  is  fairly 
represented  in  pronunciation  by  the  modern  form 

It  is  highly  probable  that  several  churches 
were  erected  in  other  districts,  in  imitation  of  St. 
Patrick's  primitive  and  favourite  church  at  Saul, 
which  were  also  placed  north  and  south,  and 
called  by  the  same  name.  We  know  that  among 
the  churches  of  Armagh,  one,  founded  probably 
by  the  saint  himself,  was  in  this  direction,  and 
called  by  the  same  name,  Sabhall,  though  this 
name  is  now  lost.  And  it  is  not  unlikely  that  a 
church  of  this  kind  gave  name  to  Saval,  near 
Newry,  to  Drumsaul  in  the  parish  of  Ematris, 
county  Monaghan,  and  to  Sawel,  a  lofty  mountain 
in  the  north  of  Tyrone.  This  supposition  super- 
sedes the  far-fetched  explanation  of  the  last  name, 
given  in  the  neighbourhood,  which  for  several 
reasons  I  have  no  hesitation  in  pronouncing  a 
very  modern  fabrication. 

Very  similar  in  the  circumstances  attending  its 
origin  is  the  name  of  Elphin,  in  the  county  Eos- 
common.  In  the  Tripartite  Life  of  St.  Patrick 
(Lib.  II.  c.  38),  we  are  told  that  a  noble  Druid 
named  Ona,  lord  of  the  ancient  district  of  Cor- 
caghlan  in  Roscommon,  presented  his  residence, 
called  Emlagh-Ona  (Ona's  marsh)  to  St.  Patrick, 
as  a  site  for  a  church.  The  church  was  built 
near  a  spring,  over  which  stood  a  large  stone,  and 
from  this  the  place  was  called  Ail/inn,  which  Colgan 
interprets  "the  rock  of  the  clear  spring;"  the 
stone  is  now  gone,  but  it  remained  standing  in  its 

CHAP,  i.]  Historical  Events.  115 

original  position  until  forty  or  fifty  years  ago. 
The  townland  of  Emlagh,  near  Elphin,  still'pre- 
serves  the  name  of  Ona's  ancient  residence. 

The  manner  in  which  St.  Brigid's  celebrated 
establishment  was  founded  is  stereotyped  in  the 
name  of  Kildare.  According  to  a  tale  in  the 
Book  of  Leinster,  quoted  by  O'Curry  (Lectures, 
p.  487),  the  place  was  called  Druim-Criaidh 
[Drumcree]  before  the  time  of  St.  Brigid  ;  and  it 
received  its  present  name  from  "a  goodly  fair 
oke "  under  the  shadow  of  which  the  saint  con- 
structed her  little  cell. 

The  origin  and  meaning  of  the  name  are  very 
clearly  set  forth  in  the  following  words  of  Ani- 
mosus,  the  writer  of  the  fourth  Life  of  St.  Brigid, 
published  by  Colgan  : — "  That  cell  is  called  .  in 
Scotic,  Cill-dara,  which  in  Latin  sounds  Cella- 
quercus  (the  church  of  the  oak) .  For  a  very  high  oak 
stood  there,  which  Brigid  loved  much,  and  blessed 
it ;  of  which  the  trunk  still  remains,  (i.  e.  up  to  the 
close  of  the  tenth  century,  when  Animosus  wrote) ; 
and  no  one  dares  cut  it  with  a  weapon."  Bishop 
Ultan,  the  writer  of  the  third  Life,  gives  a  similar 
interpretation,  viz.,  Cetta  roboris. 

If  we  may  judge  by  the  number  of  places  whose 
names  indicate  battle  scenes,  slaughters,  murders, 
&c.,  our  ancestors  must  have  been  a  quarrelsome 
race,  and  must  have  led  an  unquiet  existence. 
Names  of  this  kind  are  found  in  every  county  in 
Ireland  ;  and  various  terms  are  employed  to  com- 
memorate the  events.  Moreover,  in  most  of  these 
places,  traditions  worthy  of  being  preserved,  re- 
garding the  occurrences  that  gave  origin  to  the 
names,  still  linger  among  the  peasantry. 

The  word  cath  [cah]  signifies  a  battle,  and  its 
presence  in  many  names  points  out,  with  all  the 
certainty  of  history,  the  scenes  of  former  strife 

116     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

"We  see  it  in  Ardcath  in  Heath,  and  Mullycagh  in 
Wicklow,  both  signif ying  battle  height ;  in  Doon- 
caha  in  Kerry  and  Limerick,  the  fort  of  the  battle ; 
Derrycaw  and  Derryhaw,  battlewood,  in  Armagh ; 
and  Drumnagah  in  Clare,  the  ridge  of  the  battles. 

One  party  must  have  been  utterly  defeated, 
where  we  find  such  names  as  Ballynarooga  (in 
Limerick),  the  town  of  the  defeat  or  rout  (mag)  • 
Greaghnaroog  near  Carrickmacross,  and  Maulna- 
rouga  in  Cork,  the  marshy  flat  and  the  hillock 
of  the  rout ;  Rinnarogue  in  Sligo,  and  Bingarogy, 
the  name  of  an  island  near  Baltimore,  on  the 
south  coast  of  Cork,  both  signifying  the  rinn  or 
point  of  the  defeat.  And  how  vivid  a  picture 
of  the  hideousness  of  a  battle-field  is  conveyed  by 
the  following  names : — Heenagorp  in  Tyrone,  in 
Irish  Min-na-gcorp,  the  mountain  flat  of  the 
corpses ;  Kilnamarve  near  Carrigallen,  Leitrim, 
the  wood  of  the  dead  bodies  (Coill-na-marbh) ; 
Ballinamara  in  Kilkenny,  the  town  of  the  dead 
(Bai!e-na-marbJi) ,  where  the  tradition  of  the  battle 
is  still  remembered  ;  Lisnafulla  near  Newcastle  in 
Limerick,  the  fort  of  the  blood ;  Onamhchoill 
[knawhill]  (Book  of  Leinster),  a  celebrated  place 
near  the  town  of  Tipperary,  now  called  Cleghile 
(by  a  change  of  n  to  I — see  p.  49),  whose  name 
signifies  the  wood  of  bones  :  the  same  Irish  name 
is  more  correctly  anglicised  Knawhill  in  the  pa- 
rish of  Knooktemple,  Cork. 

Many  of  these  sanguinary  encounters,  in  which 
probably  whole  armies  were  almost  annihilated, 
though  lost  to  history,  are  recorded  with  perfect 
clearness  in  names  like  the  following,  numbers  of 
which  are  found  all  over  the  country : — Glenanair, 
a  fine  valley  near  the  boundary  of  Limerick  and 
Cork,  five  miles  south  of  Kilfinane,  the  glen  of 
slaughter,  where  the  people  still  preserve  a  vivid 

CHAP,  i.j  Historical  Events.  117 

tradition  of  a  dreadful  battle  fought  at  a  *'ord 
over  the  river;  and  with  the  same  root  word  (ar, 
slaughter),  Drumar  near  Ballybay  in  Monaghan, 
Glashare,  a  parish  in  Kilkenny,  the  ridge,  and 
the  streamlet  of  slaughter;  and  Coumanare  (Coum 
a  hollow),  in  the  parish  of  Ballyduff,  a  few  miles 
from  Dingle  in  Kerry,  where  numbers  of  arrow 
heads  have  been  found,  showing  the  truthfulness 
of  the  name ;  which  is  also  corroborated  by  a  local 
tradition  of  a  great  battle  fought  in  the  valley. 
In  Cork  they  have  a  tradition  that  a  great  and 
bloody  fight  took  place  at  some  distant  time  on 
the  banks  of  the  little  river  Ownanare  (river  01 
slaughter),  which  joins  the  Dalua  one  mile  above 

The  murder  of  any  near  relative  is  termed  in 
Irish  fionghal  [finnal]  which  is  often  translated 
fratricide  ;  and  the  frequent  occurrence  of  names 
containing  this  word,  while  affording  undeniable 
avidence  of  the  commission  of  the  crime,  demon- 
strates at  the  same  time  the  horror  with  which  it 
was  regarded  by  the  people.  We  have,  for  in- 
stance, Lisnafinelly  in  Monaghan,  and  Lisfennell 
in  Waterf ord,  where  in  both  cases  the  victim  met 
his  doom  in  one  of  the  lonely  forts  so  common 
through  the  country;  Cloonnafinneela  near  Kilnyn 
in  Kerry  (cloon  a  meadow) ;  Tattanafinnell  near 
Clogher  in  Tyrone,  the  field  (tate)  of  the  fratri- 
cide ;  Drumnafinnila  in  Leitrim,  and  Drumnafin- 
nagle  near  Kilcar  in  Donegal,  the  ridge  of  the 
fratricide,  in  the  last  of  which  places  there  is  a 
vivid  tradition  accounting  for  the  name: — that 
one  time  long  ago,  the  clan  of  Mac  Gilla  Carr 
(now  called  Carr),  fell  out  among  themselves,  and 
slaughtered  each  other  almost  to  annihilation 
("  Donegal  Cliff  Scenery"  by  "Kinnfaela,"  pp 
60,  61).  And  occasionally  the  murdered  man's 

118     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

name  is  commemorated  by  being  interwoven  with 
the  name  of  the  spot,  as  may  be  seen  in  Gortmar- 
rahafineen,  near  Kenmare  in  Kerry,  which  repre- 
sents the  Irish  Gort-marbhtha-Finghin,  the  field  of 
Fineen's  murder.  A  name  of  this  kind  is  recorded 
in  the  annals  of  Lough  Key  (II.,  368),  viz., 
Ath-Marbhtha-Cathail,  the  ford  of  the  killing  of 
Cathal,  which  in  the  anglicised  form  Aghawara- 
cahill,  is  now  the  name  of  a  townland  in  the 
parish  of  Kilmore  in  Roscommon,  south  of  the 
village  of  Drumsna.  But  no  one  knows  who  this 
unfortunate  Cathal  was.  "We  have  also  in  the 
parish  of  Clones  in  Fermanagh,  Cornamramurry, 
the  round  hill  of  the  dead  woman — Cor-na-mna- 
mairbhe  (bean,  a  woman  ;  genitive  mna). 

In  "A  Tour  through  Ireland,  by  two  English 
Gentlemen"  (Dublin,  1748),  we  read  :— "  The 
poorer  sort  of  Irish  Natives  are  mostly  Roman 
Catholicks,  who  make  no  scruple  to  assemble  in 
the  open  Fields.  As  we  passed  Yesterday  in  a 
Bye-road,  we  saw  a  Priest  under  a  Tree,  with  a 
large  Assembly  about  him,  celebrating  Mass  in 
his  proper  Habit;  and,  though  at  a  great  Distance 
from  us,  we  heard  him  distinctly.  These  sort  of 
People,  my  Lord,  seem  to  be  very  solemn  and 
sincere  in  their  devotion"  (p.  163). 

The  Irish  practice  of  celebrating  Mass  in  the 
open  air  appears  to  be  very  ancient.  It  was  more 
general,  however,  during  the  period  preceding  the 
above  tour  than  at  other  times,  partly  because 
there  were  in  many  places  no  chapels,  and  partly 
because,  during  the  operation  of  the  penal  laws, 
the  celebration  of  Mass  was  declared  illegal.  And 
the  knowledge  of  this,  if  we  be  wise  enough  to 
turn  it  to  right  account,  may  have  its  use,  by 
reminding  us  of  the  time  in  which  our  lot  is  cast, 
the  people  have  their  chapel  in  every  parish, 

CHAP,  i.]  Historical  Events.  119 

and  those  prohibitory  enactments  are  made  mere 
matters  of  history,  by  wise  and  kind  legislation. 

Even  in  our  own  day  we  may  witness  the  cele- 
bration of  Mass  in  the  open  air ;  for  many  will 
remember  the  vast  crowds  that  congregated  on 
the  summit  of  Brandon  hill  in  Kerry,  on  the  28th 
of  June,  1868,  to  honour  the  memory  of  St. 
Brendan.  The  spots  consecrated  by  the  celebra- 
tion of  the  sacred  mysteries  are  at  this  day  well 
known,  and  greatly  revered  by  the  people ;  and 
many  of  them  bear  names  formed  from  the  word 
Aiffrlon  (affrin),  the  Mass,  that  will  identify  them 
to  all  future  time. 

Places  of  this  kind  are  found  all  over  Ireland, 
and  many  of  them  have  given  names  to  townlands; 
and  it  may  be  further  observed  that  the  existence, 
of  such  a  name  in  any  particular  locality  indi- 
cates that  the  custom  of  celebrating  Mass  there 
must  have  continued  for  a  considerable  time. 

Sometimes  the  lonely  side  of  a  hill  was  chosen, 
and  the  people  remember  well,  and  will  point  out 
to  the  visitor,  the  very  spot  on  which  the  priest 
stood,  while  the  crowd  of  peasants  worshipped 
below.  One  of  these  hills  is  in  the  parish  of 
Kilmore,  county  Roscommon,  and  it  has  left  its 
name  on  the  townland  of  Ardanaffrin,  the  height 
of  the  Mass ;  another  in  the  parish  of  Donagh- 
tnore,  county  Donegal,  called  Corraffrin  (cor,  a 
round  hill) ;  a  third  in  the  parish  of  Kilcommon. 
Mayo,  namely,  Drumanaff  rin ;  a  fourth  in  CavaiL 
MullanafErin  (mullach,  a  summit) ;  and  still  ano 
ther,  Knockanaffrin,  in  Waterford,  one  of  the 
highest  hills  of  the  Cummeragh  range. 

Sometimes,  again,  the  people  selected  secluded 
dells  and  mountain  gorges ;  such  as  Clashanaffrin 
in  the  parish  of  Desertmore,  county  of  Cork 
(clash,  a  trench  or  fosse),  and  Lugganaffrin  in  the 

120     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

county  of  Galway,  the  hollow  of  the  Mass.  And 
occasionally  they  took  advantage  of  the  ancient 
forts  of  their  pagan  ancestors,  places  for  ages 
associated  with  fairy  superstitions;  and  while 
they  worshipped  they  were  screened  from  observa- 
tion by  the  circumvallations  of  the  old  fortress. 
The  old  palace  of  Greenan-Ely  near  Londonderry 
was  so  used  ;  and  there  is  a  fort  in  the  townland 
of  Rahanane,  parish  of  Kilcummin  in  Kerry, 
which  still  bears  the  name  of  Lissanaffrin,  the 
fort  of  the  Mass. 

Many  other  names  of  like  formation  are  to  be 
met  with,  such  as  Glenanaffrin,  Carriganaffrin, 
Lough  Anaffrin,  &c.  Occasionally  the  name  re- 
cords the  simple  fact  that  Mass  was  celebrated,  as 
we  find  in  a  place  called  Effrinagh,  in  the  parish 
of  Kiltoghert,  Leitrim,  a  name  which  signifies 
simply  "  a  place  for  Mass."  And  sometimes  a 
translated  name  occurs  of  the  same  class,  such  as 
Mass-brook  in  the  parish  of  Addergoole,  Mayo, 
which  is  a  translation  of  the  Irish  Sruthan-an- 

There  are  other  words  also,  besides  Affrin, 
which  are  used  to  commemorate  these  Masses; 
such  as  altoir,  an  altar,  which  gives  name  to  a 
townland,  now  called  Altore,  in  the  parish  of 
Kiltullagh,  B/oscommon ;  and  to  another  named 
Oltore,  in  the  parish  of  Donaghpatrick,  Galway. 
There  is  also  a  place  called  "Altore  cross-roads," 
near  Inchigeelagh,  Cork ;  and  we  find  Carrow- 
.  naltore  (the  quarter  land  of  the  altar)  in  the 
parish  of  Aglish  Mayo. 

CHAP,  ii.]  Historical  Personages.  121 



OUR  annals  generally  set  forth  with  great  care  the 
genealogy  of  the  most  remarkable  men — kings, 
chieftains,  or  saints — who  flourished  at  the  different 
periods  of  our  history ;  and  even  their  character 
and  their  personal  peculiarities  are  very  often 
given  with  much  minuteness.  These  annals  and 
genealogies,  which  are  only  now  beginning  to  be 
known  and  studied  as  they  deserve,  when  examined 
by  the  internal  evidence  of  mutual  comparison, 
are  found  to  exhibit  a  marvellous  consistency; 
and  this  testimony  of  their  general  truthfulness  is 
fully  corroborated  by  the  few  glimpses  we  obtain 
of  detached  points  in  the  long  record,  through  the 
writings  of  English  and  foreign  historians,  as  well 
as  by  the  still  severer  test  of  verifying  our  fre- 
quent records  of  natural  occurrences. 

Nor  are  these  the  only  testimonies.  Local 
names  often  afford  the  most  unsuspicious  and 
satisfactory  evidences  of  the  truth  of  historical 
records,  and  I  may  refer  to  the  preceding  chapter 
for  instances.  It  is  with  men  as  with  events. 
Many  of  the  characters  who  figure  conspicuously 
in  our  annals  have  left  their  names  engraven  in 
the  topography  of  the  country,  and  the  illustration 
of  this  by  some  of  the  most  remarkable  examples 
will  form  the  subject  of  the  present  chapter. 

Before  entering  on  this  part  of  the  subject,  it 
will  be  necessary  to  make  a  few  remarks  on  the 
origin  of  the  names  of  our  ancient  tribes  and 
territories,  and  to  explain  certain  terms  that  are 
often  used  in  their  formation. 

122     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

"  It  is  now  universally  admitted  that  the  ancient 
names  of  tribes  in  Ireland  were  not  derived  from 
the  territories  they  inhabited,  but  from  certain  of 
their  distinguished  ancestors.  In  nine  cases  out 
of  ten,  names  of  territories  and  of  the  tribes  in- 
habiting them  are  identical  "*  (the  former  being 
derived  from  the  latter).  The  names  of  tribes 
were  formed  from  those  of  their  ancestors,  by 
prefixing  certain  words  or  postfixing  others,  the 
most  important  of  which  are  the  following : — 

Cinel  [kinel],  kindred,  race,  descendants  ;  Cinel- 
Aedha  [Kinelea :  O'Heeren],  the  race  of  Aedh 
[Ay]  or  Hugh,  a  tribe  descended  from  Aedh 
(father  of  Failbhe  Flann,  king  of  Munster,  in 
A.  D.  636), who  were  settled  in  the  county  Cork, 
and  gave  name  to  the  barony  of  Kinalea.  Kinelarty 
a  barony  in  Down,  Cinel-Fhaghartaigh  (Four 
Mast.),  the  race  of  Fagartagh,  one  of  the  ances- 
tors of  the  Mac  Artans. 

Clann,  children,  descendants,  race;  in  the 
Zeuss  MS.  it  is  given  as  the  equivalent  of  progenies. 
The  barony  of  Clankee  in  Cavan  derives  its  name 
from  a  tribe  who  are  called  in  Irish  Clann-an- 
Chaoich  [Clanankee:  Four  Mast.],  the  descend- 
ants of  the  one-eyed  man ;  and  they  derived  this 
cognomen  from  Niall  Caoch  O'Reilly  (caoch  [kee], 
i.e.  one-eyed,  Lat.  ccecus),  who  was  slain  in  1256. 
The  baronies  of  Clanwilliam  in  Limerick  and 
Tipperary,  from  the  clann  or  descendants  of  Wil- 
liam Burke ;  Clanmaurice,  a  barony  in  Kerry,  so 
called  from  the  Fitzmaurices,  the  descendants  of 
Maurice  Fitzgerald.  Besides  several  historic 
districts,  this  word  gives  name  to  some  ordinary 
townlands  ;  such  as  Clananeese  Glebe  in  Tyrone, 

*  From  O'Donovan's  Introduction  to  the  "Topographical 
Poems  of  O'Dugan  and  O'Heeren,"  where  the  reader  will 
find  a  valuable  essay  on  tribe  and  family  names. 

OHAP.  IT.]         Historical  Personages.  123 

from  the  race  of  Aengus  or  .^Eneas ;  Clanhugh 
Demesne  in  Westmeath,  the  descendants  of  Aedh 
or  Hugh. 

Core,  corca,  race,  progeny.  Corcomohide,  the 
name  of  a  parish  in  Limerick,  is  written  in  Irish 
Corca-Muichet  (Book  of  Lismore),  the  race  of 
Muichet,  who  in  the  "  Forbais  Dromadamhghaire" 
are  stated  to  have  been  descended  from  Muichet, 
one  of  Mogh  Ruith's  disciples  (see  p.  102,  supra). 

Muintir,  family,  people;  Muntermellan  and 
Munterneese  in  Donegal,  the  family  of  Miallan 
and  Aengus  ;  Munterowen  in  Galway,  the  family 
of  Eoghan  or  Owen  ;  Munterloney,  now  the  name 
of  a  range  of  mountains  in  Tyrone,  from  the 
family  of  O'Luinigh  or  O'Looney,  who  were  chiefs 
of  the  surrounding  district. 

Siol  [shiel],  seed,  progeny.  Shillelagh,  now  a 
barony  in  Wicklow,  was  so  called  from  the  tribe 
of  Siol-Elaigh  (O'Heeren),  the  descendants  of 
Elach  :  this  district  was  formerly  much  celebrated 
for  its  oak-woods,  a  fact  that  has  given  origin  to 
the  well-known  word  shillelagh  as  a  term  for  an 
oak  stick.  Shelburne  in  "Wexford,  from  the  tribe 
of  Siol-Brain  (O'Heeren),  the  progeny  of  Bran ; 
Shelmaliere  in  the  same  county,  the  descendants 
of  Maliere  or  Maelughra. 

Tealach  [tellagh],  family.  The  barony  of 
Tullyhaw  in  Cavan  was  so  called  from  the 
Magaurans,  its  ancient  proprietors,  whose  tribe 
name  was  Tealach- Echach  (O'Dugan),  i.e.  the 
family  of  Eochy. 

Ua  signifies  a  grandson,  and,  by  an  extension 
of  meaning,  any  descendant :  it  is  often  written 
hua  by  Latin  and  English  writers,  and  still  oftener 
0,  which  is  the  common  prefix  in  Irish  family 
names.  In  Scotland  they  still  retain  it ;  for  among 
speakers  of  English  they  call  a  grandson  oe.  The 

124      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

nominative  plural  is  ui  [ee  :  often  written  in  Latin 
and  English,  hui  or  hy],  which  is  applied  to  a 
tribe,  and  this  word  still  exists  in  several 
territorial  designations.  Thus  Offerlane,  now  a 
parish  in  Queen's  County,  was  the  name  of  a  tribe, 
called  in  Irish  Ui-Foircheallain  [Hy  Forhellane : 
Four  Mast.],  the  descendants  of  Foircheallan ; 
[da,  now  the  name  of  a  barony  in  Kilkenny, 
which  represents  the  sound  of  Ui-Deaghaigh,  the 
descendants  of  Deaghadh  ;  Imaile,  a  celebrated 
district  in  Wickjow,  Ui  Mail  (O'Heeren),  the 
descendants  of  Mann  Mai,  brother  of  Cahirmore, 
king  of  Ireland  in  the  second  century. 

The  ablative  plural  of  ua  is  uibh  [iv],  and  this 
form  is  also  found  occasionally  in  names  (see  p.  33, 
VII.).  Thus  Iverk,  now  a  barony  in  Kilkenny, 
which  O'Heeren  writes  Ui-Eirc  (ablat.  Uibh-Eirc], 
the  descendants  of  Ere;  Iveleary  in  Cork  (the 
descendants  of  Laeghaire),  taking  its  name  from 
the  O'Learys,  its  ancient  proprietors ;  Iveruss, 
now  a  parish  in  Limerick,  from  the  tribe  of  Uibh- 

That  the  foregoing  is  the  proper  signification  of 
this  word  in  its  three  cases,  we  have  authorities 
that  preclude  all  dispute ;  among  others  that  of 
Adamnan,  who  in  several  passages  of  his  Life  of 
Columba,  translates  ua  by  nepos,  ui  by  nepotes, 
and  uibh  by  nepotibus. 

The  word  tuath  [tua]  meant  originally  populus 
(people),  which  it  glosses  in  the  Wb  MS.  of  Zeuss  ; 
but,  in  accordance  with  the  custom  of  naming  the 
territory  after  its  inhabitants,  it  came  ultimately 
to  signify  district,  which  is  now  the  sense  in 
which  it  is  used.  Near  Sheephaven  in  Donegal  is 
a  well-known  district  called  the  Doe :  its  ancient 
name,  as  given  by  O'Heeren,  is  Tuath  Bladhach  ; 
but  by  the  Four  Masters  and  other  authorities  it 

CHAP,  ii.]         Historical  Personages.  125 

is  usually  called  Tuatha,  i.  e.  districts.  It  was  the 
inheritance  of  the  Mac  Sweenys,  the  chief  of 
whom  was  called  Mac  Sweeny  na  dTuath,  or,  as 
it  is  pronounced  and  written  in  English,  na  Doe, 
i.  e.  of  the  districts ;  and  it  is  from  this  appellation 
that  the  place  came  to  be  corruptly  called  Doe. 

With  the  preceding  may  be  enumerated  the 
word  Fir  or  Feara,  men,  which  is  often  prefixed 
to  the  names  of  districts  to  form  tribe  names. 
The  old  tribe  called  Fir-tir8  (the  men  of  the  ter- 
ritory), in  Wicklow,  is  now  forgotten,  except  so 
far  as  the  name  is  preserved  in  that  of  the  river 
Yartry.  The  celebrated  territory  of  Fermoy  in 
Cork,  which  still  retains  its  name,  is  called  in 
Irish  Feara-muig he-Feme,  or  more  shortly,  Feara- 
muighe  (O'Heeren),  the  men  of  the  plain.  It  is 
called  in  the  Book  of  Rights  Magh  Fian,  the 
second  part  of  which  was  derived  from  the  Fians 
or  ancient  militia  (p.  91) ;  and  the  full  name 
Feara-muighe-Feine  means  the  men  of  the  plain  of 
the  Fians. 

There  are  also  a  few  words  which  are  suffixed 
to  men's  names,  to  designate  the  tribes  descended 
from  them;  such  as  raidhe  [ree],  in  the  word 
Calraidhe.  There  were  several  tribes  called 
Calraidhe  or  Calry  (the  race  of  Cal),  who  were 
descended  from  Lewy  Cal,  the  grand-uncle  of 
Maccon,  king  of  Ireland  in  the  third  century. 
The  names  of  some  of  these  are  still  extant :  one 
of  them  was  settled  in  the  ancient  Teffia,  whose 
name  is  preserved  by  the  mountain  of  Slievegolry, 
near  Ardagh,  county  Longford,  Sliabh  g  Calraidhe, 
the  mountain  of  the  (people  called)  Calry.  There 
is  a  townland  called  Drumhalry  (Druim-  Chalraidhe 
the  ridge  of  the  Calry),  near  Carrigallen  in 
Leitrim ;  and  another  of  the  same  name  in  the 
parish  of  Killoe,  county  Longford ;  which  shows 

126    Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

that  Calry  of  north  Teffia  extended  northward  as 
far  as  these  two  townlands.  Calry  in  Sligo  and 
Calary  in  Wicklow  also  preserve  the  names  of 
these  tribes. 

The  monarsh  Hugony  the  Great,  who  reigned 
3Oon  after  the  foundation  of  Emania,  divided 
Ireland  into  twenty-five  parts  among  his  twenty- 
five  children ;  and  this  division  continued  for 
about  three  centuries  after  his  time.  Several  of 
these  gave  names  to  the  territories  allotted  to  them, 
but  all  those  designations  are  now  obsolete,  with 
a  single  exception.  To  one  of  his  sons,  Lathair 
[Laher],  he  gave  a  territory  in  Ulster,  which  was 
called  from  him  Latharna  [Laharna :  Book  of 
Rights],  a  name  which  exists  to  this  day, 
shortened  to  Larne.  Though  now  exclusively 
applied  to  the  town,  it  was,  in  the  time  of  Colgan, 
the  name  of  a  district  which  extended  north- 
wards along  the  coast  towards  Glenarm :  the 
town  was  then  called  Inver-an-Laharna,  the  river- 
mouth  of  (the  territory  of)  Laharna,  from  its 
situation  at  the  mouth  of  the  Ollarbha,  or  Larne 
Water.  In  the  Down  Survey  Map  it  is  called 
"  Inver  alias  Learne ;  "  and  the  former  name  is 
still  retained  in  the  adjacent  parish  of  Inver. 

Many  of  the  remarkable  persons  who  flourished 
in  the  reign  of  Conor  mac  Nessa,  king  of  Ulster 
in  the  first  century,  still  live  in  local  names.  The 
descendants  of  Beann,  one  of  Conor's  sons,  were 
called  from  him  Beanntraighe  [Bantry  :  Book  of 
Rights],  i.  e.  the  race  of  Beann ;  a  part  of  them 
settled  in  Wexford,  and  another  part  in  Cork,  and 
ihe  barony  of  Bantry  in  the  former  county,  and  the 
.own  of  Bantry  in  the  latter,  retain  their  name. 

When  the  three  sons  of  Usnagh  were  murdered 
at  the  command  of  Conor,  Fergus  mac  Roy,  ex- 
king  of  Ulster,  who  had  guaranteed  their  safety, 

CHAP,  ii.]         Historical  Personages.  127 

"  indignant  at  the  violation  of  his  safe  conduct, 
retired  into  exile,  accompanied  by  Cormac  Con- 
lingas,  son  of  Conor,  and  by  three  thousand 
warriors  of  Uladh.  They  received  a  hospitable 
welcome  at  Cruachan  from  Maev  [queen  of  Con- 
naught],  and  her  husband  Ailill,  whence  they 
afterwards  made  many  hostile  incursions  into 
Ulster,"*  taking  part  in  that  seven  years'  war 
between  Ulster  and  Connaught,  so  celebrated  by 
our  historians  and  romancers  as  the  "Tain  bo 
Cuailnge,"  the  cattle  spoil  of  Cooley  (near  Car- 

Fergus  afterwards  resided  in  Connaught,  and 
Maev  bore  him  three  sons,  Ciar  [Keer],  Conmac, 
and  Modhruadh  [Moroo],  who  became  the  heads 
of  three  distinguished  tribes.  Ciar  settled  in 
Munster,  and  his  descendants  possessed  the  terri- 
tory west  of  Abbeyfeale,  and  lying  between 
Tralee  and  the  Shannon  ;  they  were  called  Ciar- 
raidhe  [Kerry :  Book  of  Rights],  i.  e.  the  race  of 
Ciar,  and  this  name  was  afterwards  applied  to  the 
district ;  it  was  often  called  Ciarraidhe  Luachra, 
from  the  mountain  tract  of  Sliabh  Luachra  (rushy 
mountain,  now  Slievelougher),  east  of  Castle- 
island.  This  small  territory  ultimately  gave  the 
name  of  Ciarraidhe  or  Kerry  to  the  entire 

The  descendants  of  Conmac  were  called  Con- 
maicne  [Conmacne :  ne,  a  progeny]  ;  they  were 
settled  in  Connaught,  where  they  gave  their 
name  to  several  territories.  One  of  these,  viz., 
the  district  lying  west  of  Lough  Corrib  and  Lough 
Mask,  from  its  situation  near  the  sea,  was  called, 
to  distinguish  it  from  the  others,  Conmaicne-mara 
^O'Dugan  :  muir,  the  sea,  gen.  mara),  or  the  sea- 
side Conmaicne ;  which  name  is  still  applied  to  the 

*  From  "  The  Irish  before  tlie  Conquest,"  by  Lady  Ferguson. 

128     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

very-same  district,  in  the  slightly  contracted  and 
well-known  form  Connemara. 

The  posterity  of  the  third  son,  Modhruadh, 
were  called  Corca-Modhruadh,  or  Corcomruad  (Book 
of  Leinster),  the  race  of  Modhruadh  ;  they  settled 
in  the  north  of  the  county  of  Clare,  and  their  ter- 
ritory included  the  present  baronies  of  Burren  and 
Corcomroe,  the  latter  of  which  retains  the  old 

Another  son  of  Fergus  (not  by  Maev),  was. 
Finn  or  Cufinn  (fair-haired  hound),  from  whom 
were  descended  the  tribe  of  the  Ddl-Confinn  (ddl,  a 
tribe),  who  afterwards  took  the  family  name  of 
O'Finn.  They  inhabited  a  district  in  Connaught, 
which  was  called  from  them  Cuil-0'bhFinn  [Cool- 
ovin :  Four  Mast.],  the  corner  of  the  O'Finns ; 
and  the  same  name  in  the  modernised  form  of 
Coolavin  is  still  applied  to  the  territory  which  now 
forma  a  barony  in  Sligo. 

When  the  Connaught  forces  under  Maev  marched 
to  invade  the  territory  of  Conor,  the  task  of  de- 
fending the  different  fords  they  had  to  cross  was 
allotted  to  Cuchullin,  the  great  Ulster  champion  ; 
and  the  various  single  combats  with  the  Con- 
naught  warriors,  in  all  of  which  he  was  victorious, 
are  described  with  great  minuteness  in  the  heroic 
romance  of  "  Tain  bo  Cuailnge."  One  of  these 
encounters  took  place  at  a  ford  of  the  little 
river  Nith  (now  called  the  Dee,  in  Louth),  where 
afterwards  grew  up  the  town  of  Ardee;  and 
Cuchullin's  antagonist  was  his  former  friend,  the 
youthful  champion  Ferdia,  the  son  of  Daman,  of 
the  Firbolgic  tribe  Gowanree,  who  inhabited  Erris. 
After  a  long  and  sanguinary  combat  Ferdia  was 
slain,  and  the  place  was  ever  after  called  Ath- 
Fhirdia  [Ahirdee:  Leabhar  na  hUidhre],  Fer- 
dia's  ford.  The  present  form  Ardee  is  a  very 

CHAP,  ii.]         Historical  Personages.  129 

modern  contraction  ;  by  early  English  writers  it 
is  generally  called  Atherdee,  as  by  Boate  (Chap. 
i.,  Sect,  vi.),  which  preserves,  with  little  change, 
the  original  Irish  pronunciation. 

In  the  reign  of  Felimy  the  Lawgiver  (A.  D. 
Ill  to  119),  the  men  of  Munster  seized  on  Ossory, 
and  all  the  Leinster  territories,  as  far  as  Mullagh- 
mast.  They  were  ultimately  expelled,  after  a 
series  of  battles,  by  an  Ulster  chief,  Lughaidh 
Laeighseach  [Lewy  Leeshagh],  son  of  Laeigh- 
seach  Canvore,  son  of  the  renowned  Conall  Cear- 
nach,  chief  of  the  Red  Branch  Knights  of  Ulster 
in  the  first  century  (see  p.  91).  For  this  service 
the  king  of  Leinster  granted  Lewy  a  territory  in 
the  present  Queen's  County ;  and  as  his  descen- 
dants, the  O'Moores,  were  called  from  him  by  the 
tribe  name  Laeighis  [Leesh],  their  territory  took 
the  same  name,  which  in  English  is  commonly 
written  Leix — a  district  that  figures  conspicuously 
in  Irish  and  Anglo-Irish  Chronicles. 

The  name  of  this  principality  has  altogether 
disappeared  from  modern  maps,  except  so  far  as  it 
is  preserved  in  that  of  the  town  of  Abbeyleix, 
i.  e.  the  abbey  of  the  territory  of  Leix,  which  it 
received  from  a  monastery  founded  there  in  1183 
by  Conor  O'Moore. 

The  first  battle  between  the  Munstermen  and 
the  forces  of  Lewy  was  fought  at  Ath-  Truisden,  a 
ford  on  the  river  Greece,  near  Mullaghmast,  and 
the  former  retreated  to  the  Barrow,  where  at 
another  ford  there  was  a  second  battle,  in  which  a 
Munster  chief,  Ae,  the  foster-father  of  Ohy  Finn 
Fohart  (p.  131),  was  slain;  and  from  him  the 
place  was  called  Aih-I  (wars  of  GGK),  the  ford  of 
Ae,  now  correctly  anglicised  Athy. 

From  Fiacha  Raidhe  [Ree],  grandson  of  king 
Felimy,  descended  the  tribe  named  Corcn-Raeidhe 
VOL.  i.  10 

130       Historical  and  Legendary  Names.  [PART  n. 

(O'Dugan),  whose  name  is  still  borne  by  the 
barony  of  Corkaree  in  "Westmeath,  their  ancient 
patrimony.  This  territory  is  mentioned  by  Adam- 
nan  (Lib.  I.  cap.  47),  who  calls  it  Korkureti ;  and 
in  the  Book  of  Armagh  the  name  is  translated 
Regionez  Moide,  i.  e.  the  territories  of  Raidhe  or 

The  fanciful  creations  of  the  ancient  Irish  story- 
tellers have  thrown  a  halo  of  romance  round  the 
names  of  many  of  the  preceding  personages ;  never- 
theless I  have  treated  of  them  in  the  present 
chapter,  because  I  believe  them  to  be  historical. 
As  we  descend  from  those  dim  regions  of  extreme 
antiquity,  the  view  becomes  clearer,  and  the  cha- 
racters that  follow  may,  with  few  exceptions  be 
considered  as  standing  out  in  full  historical  dis- 

Cahirmore  was  monarch  of  Ireland  from  A.  D. 
120  to  123 ;  he  is  well  known  in  connection 
with  the  document  called  the  "Will  of  Cahir- 
more," which  has  been  translated  and  published 
by  O'Donovan  in  the  Book  of  Rights.  According 
to  our  genealogical  writers  (see  O'Flaherty's 
Ogygia,  Part  III.  c.  59 ),  he  had  thirty  sons,  but 
only  ten  are  mentioned  in  the  Will,  two  of  whom 
are  commemorated  in  well-known  modern  names. 

His  eldest  son  was  Ros-failghe  [faly],  i.  e.  Ros 
of  the  rings  (fdill,  a  ring,  pi.  fdilghe),  whom  the 
monarch  addresses  as  "  my  fierce  Ros,  my  vehe- 
ment Failghe."  His  descendants  were  called  Hy 
Failghe  (O'Dugan),  i.  e.  the  descendants  of  Failghe; 
they  possessed  a  large  territory  in  Kildare  and  in 
King's  and  Queen's  Counties,  to  which  they  gave 
their  tribe  name ;  and  it  still  exists  in  the  form  of 
Offaly,  which  is  now  applied  to  two  baronies  in 
Kildare,  forming  a  portion  of  their  ancient  in- 
heritance. Another  son,  Ceatach,  also  named  in 

CHAP,  ii.]         Historical  Personages.  131 

the  Will,  was  probably  the  progenitor  of  the  tribe 
that  gave  name  to  the  barony  of  Ikeathy,  in 
Kildare — Hy  Ceataigh,  the  race  of  Ceatach.  Others 
of  Cahirmore's  sons  were  the  ancestors  of  tribes 
but  their  names  have  been  long  extinct. 

The  barony  of  Idrone  in  Carlow,  perpetuates 
the  memory  of  the  tribe  of  Hy  Drona  (Book  of 
Rights),  who  formerly  possessed  this  territory, 
and  whose  family  name  was  O'Ryan ;  their  ances- 
tor, from  whom  they  derived  their  tribe  name,  was 
Drona,  fourth  in  descent  from  Cahirmore. 

The  county  Fermanagh  was  so  called  from  the 
tribe  of  the  Fir-Monach  (O'Dugan),  the  men  of 
Monach,  who  were  originally  a  Leinster  tribe,  so 
named  from  their  ancestor  Monach,  fifth  in  descent 
from  Cahirmore,  by  his  son  Daire  Barrack.  They 
had  to  fly  from  Leinster  in  consequence  of  having 
killed  Enna,  the  son  of  the  king  of  that  province  ; 
one  part  of  them  was  located  in  the  county  of 
Down,  where  the  name  is  extinct ;  another  part 
settled  on  the  shore  of  Lough  Erne,  where  they 
acquired  a  territory  extending  over  the  entire 
county  Fermanagh.  Enna  Kinsellagh,  king  of 
Leinster  in  the  end  of  the  fourth  century,  was 
fourth  in  descent  from  Cahinnore.  He  had  a  son 
named  Felimy,  from  whom  descended  the  sept  of 
Hy  Felimy  (Four  Mast.)  ;  one  branch  of  them 
settled  in  the  county  Carlow,  and  their  name  is 
still  preserved  in  that  of  the  parish  of  Tullow- 
Offelimy,  or  Tullowphelim  (which  was  also  applied 
to  the  town  of  Tullow)  i.  e.  the  tulach  or  hill  of  the 
territory  of  Hy  Felimy ',  which  included  this  parish. 

Cahirmore  was  slain  by  the  celebrated  Conn  of 
the  Hundred  Battles,  who  ascended  the  throne  in 
A.  D.  123.  After  a  reign  of  thirty-five  years, 
Conn's  two  brothers,  Fiacha  and  Eochy  Fine 
Fothart,  betrayed  him  into  the  hands  of  Tibraide 

132       Historical  and  Legendary  Names.  [PART  IT. 

Tireach,  king  of  Ulster,  who  murdered  him  as  he 
was  making  preparations  to  celebrate  the  Feis  or 
convention  of  Tara. 

Conary  II.,  his  successor  (from  A.D.  212  to 
220),  had  three  sons — the  three  Carberys — who 
are  renowned  in  Irish  History ; — Carbery  Muse, 
Carbery  Baskin,  and  Carbery  Riada.  From  Car- 
bery Muse  were  descended  and  named  all  the 
tribes  called  Muscraidhe  [Muskerry:  O'Heerin], 
i.  e.  the  race  of  Muse ;  of  which,  according  to 
O'Heerin,  there  were  six,  all  in  Munster.  The 
names  of  all  these  have  recently  disappeared 
except  that  of  one,  Muscraidhe  Mitaine,  or  Mus- 
craidhe O'Flynn,  which  now  forms  the  two  baronies 
of  Muskerry  in  Cork.  From  Carbery  Baskin  was 
named  the  ancient  territory  of  Corcobaskin  in  the 
south-west  of  Clare,  but  the  name  has  become 
obsolete.  Carbery  Riada  was  the  most  celebrated 
of  the  three,  for  whom  see  page  87.  Carbery 
Muse  had  a  son  named  Duibhne  [Divne],  whose 
descendants  gave  name  to  the  district  of  Corca- 
Duibhne  (O'Heerin),  i.  e.  Duibhne's  race ;  and  a 
portion  of  this  territory  still  retains  the  name, 
though  somewhat  corrupted,  viz.,  the  barony  of 
Corkaguiny  (dh  changed  to  g  ;  p.  56),  in  Kerry, 
which  comprises  the  peninsula  between  Tralee  and 
Dingle  bays. 

Art,  the  son  of  Con  of  the  Hundred  Battles, 
succeeded  Conary,  and  immediately  on  his  acces- 
sion he  banished  his  uncle,  Ohy  Finn  Fothart 
[Fohart],  from  Munster.  Ohy  proceeded  to  Lein- 
ster,  and  the  king  of  that  province  bestowed  on 
him  and  his  sons  certain  districts,  the  inhabitants 
of  which  were  afterwards  called  Fotharta  [Fo- 
harta  :  Book  of  Rights] .  from  their  ancestor.  Of 
these,  the  two  principal  still  retain  the  name,  viz., 
the  baronies  of  Forth  in  Wexford  and  Carlow ; 

CHAP,  ii.]         Historical  Personages.  133 

the  former  called  in  the  Annals,  for  distinction, 
Fotharta  of  the  Cam,  i.  e.  of  Carnsore  Point ;  and 
the  latter,  Fotharta  Fea,  from  the  plain  anciently 
called  Moy  Fea,  lying  east  of  the  town  of  Carlow. 

After  Art,  the  son  of  Con,  had  reigned  thirty 
years,  he  was  slain  in  the  year  195,  in  the  battle 
of  Magh  Mucruimhe  [Muckrive]  near  Athenry,  by 
Lewy  Maccon  and  his  followers.  It  is  stated  in 
the  "  History  of  the  Cemeteries "  in  Leabhar  na 
hUidhre,  that  Art  believed  in  the  Faith  the  day 
before  the  battle,  and  predicted  the  spread  of 
Christianity.  It  would  appear  also  that  he  had 
some  presentiment  of  his  death;  for  he  directed 
that  he  should  not  be  buried  at  Brugh  on  the 
Boyne,  the  pagan  cemetery  of  his  forefathers,  but . 
at  a  place  then  called  Dumha  Dergluachra  (the 
burial-ground  of  the  red  rushy-place),  "where 
Treoit  is  at  this  day  "  (Trevet  in  the  county  Meath). 
"  When  his  body  was  afterwards  carried  eastwards 
to  Dumha  Dergluachra,  if  all  the  men  of  Erin  were 
drawing  it  thence,  they  could  not,  so  that  he  was  in- 
terred at  that  place,  because  there  was  a  Catholic 
church  to  be  afterwards  at  the  place  where  he  was 
interred,  for  the  truth  and  the  Faith  had  been  re- 
vealed to  him  through  his  regal  righteousness" 
'Hist,  of  Cemeteries;  seePetrie's  R. Towers, p.  100). 

In  the  historical  tale  called  "The  Battle  of 
Magh  Mucruimhe"  it  is  stated  that,  when  Art  was 
buried,  three  sods  were  dug  in  honour  of  the 
Trinity ;  and  that  hence  the  place,  from  that  time 
forward,  got  the  name  of  Tre-foit  (O'Clery's  Cal., 
&c.),  i.  e.  three  fods  or  sods,  which  is  very  little 
changed  in  the  present  name  Trevet. 

The  celebrated  Mogh  Nuadhat  [Mo  Nuat],  or 
Owen  More,  was  king  of  Munster  during  the 
reign  of  Con  of  the  Hundred  Battles;  he  con- 
tended with  that  monarch  for  the  sovereignty  of 

131       Historical  and  Legendary  Names.  [PART  li. 

all  Ireland,  and  after  defeating  him  in  ten  battles, 
he  obliged  him  to  divide  the  country  equally 
between  them — the  well-known  ridge  of  sand 
hills  called  Esker  Riada,  extending  from  Dublin 
to  Galway,  being  adopted  as  the  boundary.  From 
Owen  descended  a  long  line  of  kings,  and  he  was 
the  ancestor  of  the  most  distinguished  of  the  great 
Munster  families. 

He  spent  nine  years  in  Spain,  and  the  king  oJ 
that  country  gave  him  his  daughter  Beara  in 
marriage :  on  his  return  to  Ireland,  accompanied 
by  Spanish  auxiliaries,  to  make  war  against  Conn, 
he  landed  on  the  north  side  of  Bantry  bay,  and  he 
called  the  harbour  Beara  in  honour  of  his  wife. 
It  is  now  called  Bearhaven  ;  the  island  that  shel- 
ters it  is  called  Great  Bear  Island ;  and  the 
barony  is  also  known  by  the  name  of  Bear. 

Owen  derived  his  alias  name  of  Mogh  Nuadhat 
(which  signifies  Nuadhat's  slave)  from  his  fostei 
father  Nuadhat,  king  of  Leinster.  From  this 
king,  acording  to  O'Donovan  (Cambr.  Evers., 
note,  f\.  473,  Yol.  I.),  Maynooth  derives  its 
name  :  — Ma gh- Nuadhat,  i.  e.  Nuat's  plain. 

Olioll  Olum,  the  son  of  Owen,  succeeded  him 
as  king  of  Munster,  and  was  almost  as  renowned 
as  his  father  ;  he  is  usually  taken  as  the  starting- 
point  in  tracing  the  genealogies  of  the  Munster 
families.  Three  of  his  sons — Owen,  Cormac  Cas, 
and  Cian  [Kean] — became  very  much  celebrated. 

In  the  year  226  was  fought  the  battle  of  Crinna 
in  Meath,  between  Cormac  mac  Art,  king  of  Ire- 
land, and  the  TJlstermen,  under  Fergus,  son  of 
Imchadh ;  Cormac  defeated,  the  Ulster  forces,  by 
the  assistance  of  Tadg  [Teige],  son  of  Cian;  and 
for  this  service  the  king  bestowed  on  him  a  large 
territory,  extending  ?rom  the  Liffey  northwards  to 
Drumiskin.  in  Louth.  Tads's  descendants  were 

CHAP,  ii.]         Historical  Personages.  135 

called  Cianachta  [Keenaghta  :  O'Dugan],  i.  e.  the 
race  of  Cian,  from  his  father ;  and  the  territory 
was  afterwards  known  by  this  name.  It  is  for- 
gotten in  Leinster,  but  in  Ulster  it  is  still  the 
name  of  a  barony  in  the  north-west  of  London- 
derry, called  Keenaght,  from  the  O'Coaors  of 
Glengiven,  who  formerly  ruled  over  it,  and  who 
were  a  branch  of  the  tribe  of  Keenaghta,  having 
been  descended  from  Connla  the  son  of  Tadg. 
The  name  is  also  preserved  in  Coolkeenaght,  in 
the  parish  of  Faughanvale,  Deny ;  Cuaitte-  Cian- 
achta (Four  Mast.),  the  bare  tree  or  pole  of 

The  barony  of  Ferrard  in  Louth  indirectly  keeps 
up  the  memory  of  this  ancient  tribe.  The  range . 
of  heights  called  Slieve  JBregh,  running  from 
near  Collon  in  Louth,  eastwards  to  Clogher  Head, 
was  anciently  called  Ard- Cianachta  (Four  Mast. ; 
Ard-Ceanachte,  Adamuan),  the  height  of  the 
territory  of  Keenaght,  and  the  inhabitants  were 
called  Feara-Arda-C'ianachta,  or  more  shortly, 
Feara-Arda  (Four  Mast.),  i.  e.  the  men  of  the 
height,  from  which  the  modern  name  Ferrard  has 
been  formed. 

Tadg,  the  son  of  Cian,  had  a  son  named  Cormac 
Gaileng  (Cormac  of  the  dishonoured  spear;  see 
Knockgrean,  2nd  Vol.),  who  having  fallen  under 
the  displeasure  of  his  father,  fled  from  Munster  to 
Connaught,  where  he  obtained  from  Cormac  mac 
Art,  king  of  Ireland,  a  district  which  had  pre- 
viously been  inhabited  by  the  Firbolgs  or  "At- 
'cacots."  The  descendants  of  Cormac  Gaileng 
and  his  son  Luigh,  or  Lewy,  were  known  by  the 
two  names  Gaiknga  (O'Dugan),  or  the  race  of 
Gaileng,  and  Luighne  [Leyny :  O'Dugan],  the 
posterity  (ne)  of  Luigh.  These  were  originally 
only  various  names  for  the  same  tribe,  but  they 

136      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  IL 

are  at  the  present  day  applied  to  different  dis- 
tricts— one,  in  the  modern  form  of  Gallen,  to  a 
barony  in  Mayo,  and  the  other  to  a  barony  in 
Sligo,  now  called  Leyny. 

A  branch  of  the  same  tribe  settled  in  Leinster, 
where  there  were  two  territories  called  respectively 
Mor-Gaiknga  and  Gaiknga-beag  (O'Dugan),  or  the 
great  and  little  Gaiknga ;  the  latter  is  obsolete, 
but  the  former  is  still  retained  in  the  name  of 
the  modern  barony  of  Morgallion  in  Meath. 

Eile,  the  seventh  in  descent  from  Cian,  was  the 
ancestor  of  the  tribes  called  Eile  or  Ely,  who  gave 
name  to  several  districts,  all  in  the  ancient  Mumha 
or  Munster,  and  of  which  O'Carroll  was  king. 
The  only  one  of  these  whose  name  has  held  its 
ground  is  Ely  O'Fogarty,  so  called  from  its  ancient 
possessors,  the  O'Fogartys ;  and  the  name  is  now 
applied  to  a  barony  in  Tipperary,  in  the  shortened 
form  of  Eliogarty. 

Eochy  Liathanach  [Lehanagh]  was  fifth  in  de- 
scent from  Olioll  Olum,  and  from  him  the  tribe  of 
O'Liathain,  who  now  call  themselves  O'Lehane  or 
Lyons,  are  derived.  Castlelyons  in  Cork  was 
situated  in  their  territory,  and  still  retains  its 
name —  Caiskn-ui-IAathain  [Cashlan  -  ee  -  Leehan], 
the  castle  of  the  territory  of  Hy-Liathain. 

Settled  in  different  parts  of  Connaught  and 
Leinster  were  formerly  seven  tribes — three  in  the 
former  province  and  four  in  the  latter — all  with 
the  same  tribe  name  of  Dealhhna  [Dal'vana] ; 
they  were  an  offshoot  of  the  Dalcassians  of  north 
Munster,  and  were  descended  from  Lewy  Deal- 
bhaeth  [Dal way],  who  was  the  son  of  Gas  Mac 
Tail  (seventh  in  descent  from  Olioll  Olum),  the 
ancestor  of  the  Dalcassians.  They  derived  their 
tribe  name  from  Lewy  Dealbhaeth : — Dealbhna,  i.  e. 
the  descendants  of  Dealbhaeth.  None  of  these 

CHAP,  ii.]         Historical  Personages.  137 

tribes  have  left  their  name  in  our  present  territorial 
nomenclature  except  one,  namely,  Dealbhna  mor, 
or  the  great  Dealbhna,  which  is  now  the  barony  of 
Delvin  in  Westmeath. 

From  Conal,  the  ninth  from  Olioll  Olum,  de- 
scended the  tribe  of  Hy  Conaill  Gabra  (Book  of 
Leinster),  who  possessed  a  territory  in  the  county 
of  Limerick,  a  part  of  which  still  retains  the 
name,  viz.,  the  baronies  of  Upper  and  Lower 

I  have  already  mentioned  (p.  90)  the  destruc- 
tion of  the  palace  of  Emania,  in  the  year  332,  by 
the  three  Collas;  these  were  Colla  Uais,  Colla 
Meann,  and  Colla  da  Chrioch,  who  were  the  an- 
cestors of  many  noble  families  in  Ulster  and 
Scotland,  and  the  first  of  whom  reigned  as  king 
of  Ireland  from  A.D.  323  to  326.  He  was  the 
progenitor  of  the  several  tribes  known  by  the 
name  of  Ui  mic  Uais  [Ee-mic-oosh],  one  of  which 
was  seated  somewhere  in  the  north  of  Ireland, 
another  in  East  Meath,  near  Tara,  and  a  third  in 
Westmeath.  This  last  is  the  only  one  of  the 
three  whose  name  has  survived ;  whose  territory 
is  now  a  barony,  and  known  by  the  name  of 
Moygoish,  which  is  an  attempt  at  pronouncing 
the  original  Ui  mic  Uais. 

Caerthann  [Kieran],  the  great-grandson  of 
Colla  Uais,  was  the  ancestor,  through  his  son 
Forgo,  of  the  tribe  called  Hy  Mic  Caerthainn 
(Four  Mast.) ;  the  territory  they  inhabited,  which 
was  situated  in  the  west  of  the  present  county  of 
Deny,  was  called  from  them  Tir-mic-  Caerthainn 
(the  land  of  Kieran's  son),  or  more  shortly,  Tir- 
Chaerthainn,  which  is  still  the  name  of  a  barony, 
now  called  Tirkeeran. 

The  barony  of  Cremorne  in  Monaghan  pre- 
serves the  name  of  the  ancient  district  of  Crioch- 

138     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

Mughdhorn  [Cree-Mourne],  i.  e.  the  country 
(crioch]  of  the  people  call  Mughdhorna,  who  were 
descended  and  named  from  Mughdhorn  [Mourne], 
the  son  of  Colla  Meann.  About  the  middle  of  the 
12th  century,  a  tribe  of  the  Mac  Mahons  emi- 
grated from  Cremorne,  and  settled  in  the  south  of 
the  present  county  of  Down,  to  which  they  gave 
their  tribe  name  of  Mughdhorna,  and  which  is  now 
known  as  the  barony  Mourne. 

The  Mourne  mountains  owe  their  name  to  the 
same  event,  having  been  previously  called  Beanna- 
Boirche  [Banna  borka].  The  shepherd  Boirche, 
according  to  the  Dinnsenchus,  herded  on  these 
mountains  the  cattle  of  Ross  (son  of  Imchadh), 
king  of  Ulster  in  the  third  century,  and  the  ac- 
count states  that  his  favourite  look-out  point  was 
the  summit  of  Slieve  Slanga,  now  Slieve  Donard, 
the  highest  peak  in  the  range  ;  hence  these  moun- 
tains received  the  very  appropriate  name  of 
Beanna-Boirche,  Boirche's  peaks. 

Niallan,  descended  in  the  fourth  degree  from 
Colla  Da  Chrioch  [Cree],  was  the  progenitor  of 
the  tribe  called  Hy  Niallain  (i.  e.  Niallan's  race) ; 
and  their  ancient  patrimony  forms  the  two  baro- 
nies of  Oneilland  in  Armagh,  which  retains  the 

The  descendants  of  Eochy  Moyvane,  king  of 
Ireland  from  A.D.  358  to  365,  branched  into  a 
vast  number  of  illustrious  families,  the  earlier 
members  of  which  have  left  their  names  impressed 
on  many  localities.  The  following  short  genea- 
logical table  exhibits  a  few  of  his  immediate  de- 
scendants, viz.,  those  concerned  in  the  present 
inquiry,  and  it  will  render  what  I  have  to  say 
regarding  them  more  easily  understood : — 

CHAP,  ii.]         Historical  Personages.  139 

Eochy  Moyvane. 

I  I  I 

Fiachra.  Olioll.*  Niall  of  the  Nine  Hostages 

Dathi.        Awly.         Leary.        Owen.        Conall,      Carbery; 

|  Gulban. 

Fiachra  Ealgach. 

Fiachra  [Feecra],  son  of  Eochy  Moyvane  was 
the  ancestor  of  the  Hy  Fiachrach,  which  branched 
into  a  great  number  of  families.  Amhalgaidh 
[Awly],  his  son,  brother  of  the  monarch  Dathi 
[Dawhy],  was  king  of  Connaught,  and  gave  name 
to  Tir-Amhalgaidh,  i.  e.  Awly's  district,  now  the 
barony  of  Tirawly  in  Mayo.  > 

Fiachra  Ealgach,  son  of  Dathi,  gave  his  name 
to  Tir-Fhiachrach  (Four  Masters),  Fiachra's  dis- 
trict ;  and  the  sound  is  very  well  preserved  in  the 
modern  name  Tireragh,  which  is  applied  to  a 
barony  in  Sligo.  The  barony  of  Tirerrill  in  the 
same  county  was  possessed  by  the  descendants  of 
Olioll,  son  of  Eochy  Moyvane,  and  from  him  it 
got  the  name  of  Tir-Oliolla  (Hy  Fiachrach), 
which,  by  a  change  of  /  to  r,  has  been  corrupted 
to  the  present  name. 

The  great  monarch  Niall  of  the  Nine  Hostages, 
king  of  Ireland  from  A.D.  379  to  405,  had  four- 
teen sons,  eight  of  whom  had  issue,  and  became 
the  ancestors  of  many  great  and  illustrious  fami- 
lies :  of  these  eight,  four  remained  in  Meath,  viz., 
Laeghaire  [Leary],  Conall  Criffan,  Fiacha,  and 
Maine;  and  four  settled  in  Ulster — Eoghan  or 
Owen,  Conall  Gulban,  Carbery,  and  Enna  Finn. 
The  posterity  of  Niall  are  usually  called  Hy  Neitt, 
the  southern  Hy  Neitt  being  descended  from  the 
first  four,  and  the  northern  Hy  Neill  from  the 

140      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  11. 

Laeghaire  was  king  of  Ireland  from  A.  D.  428 
to  458,  and  his  reign  was  rendered  illustrious  by 
the  arrival  of  St.  Patrick ;  he  erected  one  of  the 
forts  at  Tara,  which  still  exists,  and  retains  the 
name  Rath- Laeghaire ;  and  the  old  name  of  Kings- 
town— Dunleary,  Laeghaire's  Dun — was,  in  the 
opinion  of  some,  derived  from  him. 

Owen  and  Conall  Gulban  are  renowned  in  Irish 
history  as  the  heads  of  two  great  branches  of  the 
northern  Hy  Neill,  the  Kinel  Owen  and  Kinel 
Connell.  Owen,  who  died  in  A.  D.  465,  was  the 
ancestor  of  the  O'Neills,  and  his  descendants 
possessed  the  territory  extending  over  the  counties 
of  Tyrone  and  Londonderry,  and  the  two  baronies 
of  Raphoe  and  Inishowen  in  Donegal ;  all  this 
district  was  anciently  called  Tir-Eoghain  (Wars  of 
GO-.),  Owen's  territory,  which  is  now  written 
Tyrone,  and  restricted  to  one  county.  The  penin- 
sula between  Lough  Foyle  and  Lough  Swilly 
received  also  its  name  from  him,  Inishowen,  i.  e. 
Owen's  island. 

Conall,  who  received  the  cognomen  Gulban 
from  having  been  fostered  near  the  mountain 
Binn-Gulbain  (Gulban's  peak  ;  now  Binbulbin)  in 
Sligo,  died  in  464;  he  was  the  ancestor  of  the 
O'Donnells,  and  his  posterity  ultimately  possessed 
the  county  of  Donegal,  which  from  him  was  called 
Tirconnell,  Conall' s  district. 

One  of  the  sons  of  Conall  Gulban  was  Enna 
Boghaine  [Boana],  and  he  became  the  ancestor  of 
a  tribe  called  Kinel  Boghaine ;  the  district  they 
inhabited  was  called  Tir-Boghaine  (Four  Mast. ), 
and  frequently  Baghaineach  [Bawnagh],  i.  e. 
Boghaine' s  territory ;  and  this  latter  still  holds  its 
place  in  the  form  of  Banagh,  which  is  the  name  of 
a  modern  barony,  a  portion  of  the  ancient 

CHAP,  ii.]         Historical  Personages.  141 

Baeighill  [Boyle],  who  was  tenth  in  descent 
from  Conall  Ghilban,  was  the  ancestor  of  the 
O'Boyles,  and  the  district  they  possessed  was 
called  from  them  Baeighellach  (Four  Mast.),  or 
Boylagh,  which  is  still  the  name  of  a  barony  in 
the  south-west  of  Donegal. 

Flaherty,  also  descended  from  Conall  Gulban, 
was  king  of  Ireland  from  A.  D.  723  to  729 : 
fifth  in  descent  from  him  was  Cannanan,  from 
whom  is  derived  the  family  of  O'Cannanan  (or, 
as  they  now  call  themselves,  Cannon),  who  were 
anciently  chiefs  or  kings  of  Tirconnell,  till  they 
ultimately  sank  under  the  power  of  the  O'Donnells. 
From  this  family  Letterkenny  in  Donegal  received 
its  name,  which  is  a  shortened  form  of  Letter'. 
Cannanan,  the  O'Cannanans'  hill-slope. 

Carbery,  another  of  NialTs  sons,  was  the  ances- 
tor of  the  Kinel- Carbery ;  a  part  of  them  settled 
in  the  north  of  the  present  county  of  Longford, 
where  the  mountain  Slieve-Carbury  retains  theif 
name ;  and  another  portion  took  possession  of  a 
territory  in  the  north  of  Sligo,  which  is  now 
known  as  the  barony  of  Carbury.  The  baronies 
of  Carbery  in  Cork  derive  their  name  from  a 
different  source.  When  Cathal  O'Donovan  left 
his  native  district,  Cairbre-Aebhdha  in  Limerick, 
in  the  beginning  of  the  14th  century,  and  settled 
in  the  south  of  Cork,  he  called  his  newly  acquired 
territory  Cairbre,  the  tribe  name  of  his  family  ; 
and  it  has  retained  this  name  ever  since. 

142     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 



OUR  early  ecclesiastical  writers  have  left  us  ample 
records  of  the  most  remarkable  of  those  illustrious 
men  and  women,  who  in  the  fifth  and  succeeding 
centuries  devoted  their  lives  to  the  conversion  of 
the  Irish  nation.  There  are,  on  the  other  hand, 

treat  numbers,  of  whom  we  possess  only  meagre 
etails,  sometimes  obscure  and  conflicting,  and 
often  very  perplexing  to  the  student  of  those  early 
times.  And  many  passed  silently  to  their  reward, 
leaving  their  names,  and  nothing  more,  to  attest 
their  participation  in  the  good  work. 

Most  of  these  saints  settled  in  particular  dis- 
tricts, and  founded  churches,  monasteries,  or 
schools,  which  continued  for  ages  to  be  centres  of 
civilisation,  and  of  knowledge  both  secular  and 
religious.  Whoever  understands  the  deep  religi- 
ous feeling  of  our  people,  and  the  fidelity  with 
which  they  cling  to  the  traditions  of  their  ances- 
tors, will  not  be  surprised  that  in  most  cases  they 
retain  to  this  day  in  the  several  localities,  a  vivid 
recollection  of  the  patron  saints,  and  cherish 
their  memory  with  feelings  of  affection  and 

These  churches  generally  retain  the  names  of 
their  founders,  suffixed  to  such  words  as  Kill  and 
Temple  (a  church),  Tee,  or  Ty  (a  house),  &c. 
Names  of  this  kind  abound  in  every  part  of  the 
country  ;  and  in  all  Ireland  there  are  probably 
not  less  than  ten  thousand  that  commemorate  the 
names  of  the  founders,  or  of  the  saints  to  whom 
the  churches  were  dedicated,  or  that  in  some  other 
way  indicate  ecclesiastical  origin. 

To  attempt  an  enumeration  of  even  the  princi- 

CHAP,  in.]  Early  Irish  Saints.  143 

pal  saints  that  adorned  our  country  from  the  fifth 
to  the  eighth  or  ninth  century,  and  who  are  com- 
memorated in  local  names,  would  far  exceed  the 
limits  of  a  chapter ;  but  I  shall  here  select  a  few 
for  illustration,  passing  over,  however,  some  of 
the  great  saints,  such  as  Patrick,  Brigid,  and 
Columba,  whose  lives,  and  the  religious  establish- 
ments that  retain  their  names  are,  generally  speak- 
ing, sufficiently  well-known. 

Soon  after  St.  Patrick's  arrival  in  Ulster,  and 
tfhile  he  was  in  the  neighbourhood  of  Down- 
patrick,  he  met  and  converted  a  young  man 
named  Mochaei  [Mohee],  whose  mother  was 
Bronach,  daughter  of  the  pagan  chief  Milcho, 
with  whom  the  saint  had  spent  seven  years  of  his 
youth  in  captivity.  After  having  baptised  him, 
he  tonsured  and  dedicated  him  to  the  Church ;  and 
according  to  O'Clery's  Calendar  he  was  the  first 
of  the  Irish  saints  to  whom  St.  Patrick  presented 
a  crosier  and  a  book  of  the  Gospels. 

This  Mochaei,  who  was  also  called  Caelan  (i.  e. 
a  slender  person),  became  afterwards  very  much 
distinguished,  and  ultimately  attained  the  rank  of 
bishop:  he  died  in  the  year  497.  He  built  a 
church  and  established  a  school  at  a  place  called 
Naendruim,  or  Nendrum,  in  Strangford  Lough, 
which  was  long  a  puzzle  to  topographers,  and  was 
generally  confounded  with  Antrim,  till  Dr. 
Reeves,  in  his  "  Description  of  Nendrum,"  identi- 
fied the  place,  and  corrected  the  long- established 
error.  It  forms  the  eastern  portion  of  Ballinakill 
parish,  and  in  memory  of  the  saint  it  was  also 
called  Inis  Mochaei  or  Mahee  island,  which  last 
name  it  retains  to  this  day.  Even  yet  this  place 
retains  the  relics  of  its  former  distinction,  namely, 
the  remains  of  a  round  tower,  and  of  a  triple 
cashel  or  wall  surrounding  the  foundations  of  the 

144     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  u. 

old  church.  The  name  Naendruim  signifies  "  nine 
ridges ;"  for  so  it  is  explained  in  MS.  H.  3.  18  :— 
"  Naendruim,  i.  e.  the  name  of  a  church,  i.  e.  nine 
hillocks  in  the  island  in  which  it  is  "  (see  Naen- 
druim in  App.  to  O'R.  Diet.). 

Another  of  St  Patrick's  disciples  was  St. 
Domhanghart  [Donart],  bishop,  son  of  Eochy,  king 
of  Ulidia.  He  founded  two  churches — one  at  a 
place  called  Rath-murbhuilg,  near  the  foot  of 
Slieve  Donard,  and  the  other  "  on  the  very  sum- 
mit of  the  mountain  itself,  far  from  all  human 
habitation "  (Colgan,  A.SS.,  p.  743).  The  ruins 
of  this  little  church  existed  down  to  a  recent 
period  on  Slieve  Donard ;  and  the  name  of  the 
mountain  stands  as  a  perpetual  memorial  of  the 
saint,  who  is  still  held  in  extraordinary  veneration 
among  the  Mourne  mountains,  and  of  whom  the 
peasantry  tell  many  curious  legends. 

The  ancient  name  of  this  mountain  was  Slieve 
Slaing8,  so  called  from  the  bardic  hero  Slain  ge, 
the  son  of  Parthalon,  who  was  buried  on  its  sum- 
mit ;  and  the  great  earn  raised  over  him  still  ex- 
ists, and  forms  a  very  conspicuous  object.  Giral- 
dus  Cambrensis,  writing  in  the  twelfth  century, 
records  the  two  names  of  the  mountain,  but  St. 
Domhanghart' s  name  he  latinizes  Dominicus : — 
"  A  very  high  mountain  which  hangs  over  the 
sea  flowing  between  Britain  and  Ireland,  is  called 
Salanga,  from  the  second  [son  of  Bartholanus, 
namely,  Salanus,  i.  e.  Slainge]  ;  but  because  St. 
Dominicus  many  ages  afterwards  built  a  noble 
monastery  at  its  base,  it  is  now  more  usually  called 
the  mountain  of  St.  Dominicus"  [i.  e.  Slieve 
Donard :  Top.  Hib.,  Dist.,  III.  Cap.  n.]. 

The  "  noble  monastery "  of  Cambrensis  is  the 
church  mentioned  by  Colgan  (A.  SS.,  p.  743)  as 
"formerly  called  Rath-murbhuilg ,  now  called 

CHAP,  in.j        Early  Irish  Saints.  145 

Machaire-ratha"  and  which  he  states  is  at  the  foot 
of  the  mountain.  This  identifies  it  with  Maghera, 
now  the  name  of  a  village  and  parish,  north  of 
the  mountain ;  Machaire-ratha  (the  plain  of  the 
fort)  being  pronounced  Maghera-rdha,  which  was 
shortened  to  Maghera.  The  old  name  Rath-murbh- 
uilg  (which  signifies  the  rath  of  the  sea-inlet), 
was  of  course  originally  applied  to  a  fort,  but  it 
was  afterwards  transferred  to  the  church,  and 
thence  to  the  parish.  The  change  of  name  was 
effected  by  first  dropping  murbhuilg,  and  after- 
wards prefixing  machaire  ;  and  the  intermediate 
stage  appears  in  the  taxation  of  1306,  in  which 
the  church  is  called  simply  Rath. 

The  murbholg  from  which  it  took  its  original 
name  is  the  small  inlet  near  it,  entering  from 
Dundrum  Bay  ;  and  it  is  a  curious  confirmation 
of  the  authenticity  of  the  foregoing  history  of 
the  name,  that  on  its  shore  there  are  still  two 
townlands  (originally  one)  called  Murlough,  which 
is  the  anglicised  form  of  Murbholg. 

There  is  a  village  in  Derry  called  Maghera, 
which  is  also  contracted  from  Machaire-ratha.  It 
was  anciently  called  Rath-Luraigh  (Four  Mast.), 
i.  e.  the  fort  of  St.  Lurach,  or,  as  he  is  now  called, 
Lowry,  the  patron  saint,  whom  O'Clery's  Calen- 
dar, at  the  17th  of  February,  designates  as 
"  Lurach  of  the  Poems,  son  of  Guana,  of  the 
race  of  Colla  Uais,  monarch  of  Ireland :  "  he  is 
well  remembered  in  the  place,  and  his  church, 
grave,  and  holy  well  are  still  to  be  seen.  From 
this  church,  the  level  land  where  the  town  stands 
took  the  name  of  Machaire-Ratha-Luraidh  (the 
plain  of  Rathlowry),  contracted  to  Machaire-ratha, 
and  modernised  to  Maghera. 

The  patron  of  Kinawly  in  Fermanagh  is  St. 
Natalis,  or  as  he  is  called  in  Irish,  Naile  [Nawly], 
VOL.  i.  11 

146      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PARTII 

and  from  him  the  place  is  called  Cill-Naile  (O'Cl. 
Cal.),  which  ought  to  have  been  anglicised  Kil- 
nawty.  In  O'Clery's  Calendar,  the  following 
notice  of  him  occurs  at  the  27th  of  January : — 
"  Naile  of  Inbher-Naile,  in  Tir-Baghuine  in  Cinel- 
Conaill  (the  barony  of  Banagh  in  Donegal),  and 
afterwards  abbot  of  Cill-Naile,  and  Daimhinis  in 
Feara-Manach"  (Devenish  in  Fermanagh).  Inbher- 
Naile  (Naile's  river-mouth),  is  the  present  village 
of  Inver,  west  of  Donegal,  of  which  he  is  also  the 
patron,  and  where  he  is  still  remembered  ;  and  his 
name  is  preserved  in  that  of  Legnawly  Glebe 
(Naile's  lug  or  hollow),  near  the  village. 

Another  Natalia  or  Naile  is  the  patron  saint  of 
Kilmanagh,  west  of  Kilkenny  (Cill-Manach,  Mart 
Taml.,  the  church  of  the  monks) ;  and  it  may  be 
assumed  that  the  church  of  Killenaule  in  Tippe- 
rary  (which  is  not  far  from  Kilmanagh),  was 
dedicated  to,  and  named  from  him. 

Some,  and  among  others  Colgan,  are  of  opinion 
that  the  two  Nailes  are  identical,  but  this  is  dis- 
puted by  Dr.  Lanigan.  The  O'Clerys  make  them 
different,  and  state  that  Naile  of  Kinawly  was  the 
son  of  Aengus,  that  king  of  Munster  of  whom  is 
told  the  celebrated  anecdote,  that,  when  he  was 
baptised  by  St.  Patrick  in  Cashel,  his  foot  was 
accidentally  pierced  by  the  crosier,  and  so  deep 
was  his  fervour  that  he  bore  it  without  a  word, 
thinking  it  was  part  of  the  ceremony.  Whoever 
tries  to  disentangle  this  question  by  referring  to 
the  calendars,  will  find  it  involved  in  much  con- 
fusion ;  but  it  seems  certain  that  they  were  two 
different  persons :  that  Naile  of  Fermanagh  was 
really  the  son  of  Aengus ;  and  that  the  other 
Naile  flourished  somewhat  later,  for  it  is  stated 
that  he  died  in  564. 

Ardbraccan    (Brecan's  height)   in  Meath,   was 

CHAP,  in.]  Early  Irish  Saints.  147 

founded  by  St.  Brecan,  about  whose  history, 
although  he  was  a  very  remarkable  man,  there 
hangs  considerable  obscurity.  The  most  probable 
accounts  represent  him  as  the  son  of  Eochy  Ball- 
derg,  prince  of  Thomond,  who  was  baptised  by 
St.  Patrick  at  Singland  near  Limerick.  Brecan, 
after  having  erected  a  church  at  Ardbraccan,  re- 
moved to  the  Great  Island  of  Arran,  where  he 
fixed  his  principal  establishment;  and  here  are 
still  to  be  seen  the  ruins  of  his  church,  and  his 
tombstone,  inscribed  with  his  name,  in  very 
ancient  Roman  characters  (see  Petrie's  R.  Towers, 
p.  138).  He  is  also  venerated  at  Kilbreckan 
(Brecan' s  church),  in  the  parish  of  Doora  in  Clare 
(O'Cl.  Gal.,  p.  117). 

St.  Ite,  or  Ide,  virgin,  who  is  often  called  the 
Brigid  of  Munster,  was  one  of  the  most  illustrious 
saints  in  an  age  abounding  with  illustrious  men 
and  women.  She  was  born  about  the  year  480,  of 
the  noble  race  of  the  Desii  in  "Waterford,  being 
descended  from  Fiacha,  the  son  of  Felim  the 
Lawgiver.  She  was  from  her  earliest  years  filled 
with  the  spirit  of  piety,  and  when  she  came  of 
age,  obtained  her  parents'  consent  to  devote  herself 
to  a  religious  life.  After  having  received  the 
veil,  she  proceeded  to  the  territory  of  Hy  Conaill 
in  Limerick,  where  she  selected  a  spot  called 
Cluain  Credhuil  [Clooncrail]  for  her  residence. 
She  was  soon  visited  by  great  numbers  of  pious 
maidens,  who  placed  themselves  under  her  direc- 
tion ;  and  in  this  manner  sprang  up  her  nunnery, 
which  was  the  first  in  that  part  of  the  country, 
and  which  afterwards  attained  to  great  celebrity. 
The  name  of  the  place  was  changed  to  Cill-Ide 
(O'Cler.  Cal.),  or  as  it  is  now  called  Killeedy, 
which  gives  name  to  a  parish ;  and  at  the 
present  day  the  place  contains  the  ruins  of  a 

148      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.    [PART  n. 

very  ancient,  and  exquisitely  beautiful  little 

This  virgin  saint  is  remembered  with  intense 
veneration  all  over  Munster,  and  especially  in 
Limerick.  Her  name  is  sometimes  changed  to 
Mide  (by  prefixing  Mo*),  and  in  this  form  we  find 
it  in  the  names  of  churches  dedicated  to  her,  of 
which  there  are  several,  and  which  are  now  called 
Kilmeedy  ;  one  of  them  giving  name  to  a  village 
in  Limerick 

St.  Brendan  of  Clonfert,  or  as  he  is  often  called 
Brendan  the  navigator,  was  the  son  of  Finlogh  of 
the  race  of  Ciar  (see  p.  127)  ;  and  was  born  near 
Tralee  in  Kerry  in  the  year  484.  He  received  the 
rudiments  of  his  education  under  a  bishop  Ere, 
and  was  an  intimate  friend  of  St.  Ite  of  Killeedy. 
After  having  studied  with  St.  larlath  at  Tuam, 
and  with  St.  Finnian  at  Clonard,  he  visited  Brit- 
tany, where  he  founded  a  monastery.  It  was 
previous  to  this  last  visit  that  he  undertook  his 
famous  voyage,  in  which  he  is  said  to  have  spent 
seven  years  sailing  about  on  the  western  sea,  and 
to  have  landed  on  various  strange  shores. 

He  founded  the  monastery  of  Clonfert  in  Gal- 
way  about  the  year  553,  where  he  drew  together 
a  vast  number  of  monks;  it  soon  became  one 
of  the  most  celebrated  religious  establishments  in 
Ireland ;  and  in  memory  of  the  founder  the  place 
is  generally  called  in  the  Annals  Clonfert  Brendain. 

*  The  syllables  mo  (my)  and  do  or  da  (thy),  were  often  pre- 
fixed to  the  names  of  Irish  saints  as  terms  of  endearment  or 
reverence ;  thus  Conna  became  Mochonna,  and  Dachonna. 
The  diminutives  an,  in,  and  6g  were  also  often  postfixed ;  as 
we  find  in  Ernan,  Ernog,  Baeithin,  Baethan,  &c.  Sometimes 
the  names  were  greatly  changed  by  these  additions ;  thus 
Aedk  is  the  same  name  as  Maedhog  (Mo-Aedh-6g,  my  little 
Aedh),  though  when  pronounced  they  are  quite  unlike,  Aedh 
being  pronounced  Ai  (to  rhyme  with  day),  and  Maedhog, 
Alogue;  Ai  =  Mogue!  (See  2nd  Vol.,  c.  II.). 

CHAP,  in.j  Early  Irish  Saints.  149 

He  also  founded  the  monastery  of  Ardfert,  in  his 
native  county  (which  is  also  called  Ardfert  Bren- 
dain],  where  a  beautiful  ancient  church  still 
remains.  There  are  several  places  in  Ireland 
called  Clonfert,  which  name  is  written  in  the 
Book  of  Leinster  Cluain-ferta,  the  meadow  of  the 
grave ;  and  Ardfert  is  written  by  the  Four  Mas- 
ters Ard-ferta,  the  height  of  the  grave.  There  is 
a  parish  in  the  King's  County  called  Kilclonfert 
(the  church  of  the  meadow  of  the  grave  :  St. 
Colman  patron),  the  ancient  name  of  which  as 
given  in  O'Clery's  Cal.,  is  Cluain-ferta- Mughaine. 

There  are  two  remarkable  mountains  in  Ireland 
called  Brandon  Hill  from  this  saint.  One  is  near 
Inistioge  in  Kilkenny ;  and  the  other  is  the  well- 
known  mountain — one  of  the  highest  in  Ireland — 
west  of  Tralee  in  Kerry,  on  the  summit  of  which 
are  the  ruins  of  his  oratory,  with  an  ancient  stone- 
paved  causeway  leading  to  it,  which  are  probably 
coeval  with  St.  Brendan  himself. 

There  were  many  saints  named  Ciaran  or  Kie- 
ran,  but  two  of  them  were  distinguished  beyond 
the  others — St.  Ciaran  of  Clonmacnoise,  of  whom 
I  shall  not  speak  here,  and  St.  Ciaran  of  Ossory. 
Regarding  the  exact  period  when  the  latter  flou- 
rished, there  is  much  uncertainty  ;  but  according 
to  the  most  reliable  accounts  he  became  a  bishop 
about  the  year  538.  He  was  born  in  the  island  of 
Cape  Clear  ;  but  his  father,  Lugneus,  was  a  native 
of  Ossory,  and  of  kingly  descent. 

Ciaran  was  one  of  the  numerous  band  of  saints 
who  attended  St.  Finnian's  school  at  Clonard  ;  and 
having  retired  to  a  solitary  place  called  Saighir 
[Sair],  in  the  territory  of  Eile  in  Minister,  he 
after  some  time  erected  a  monastery  there,  which 
gradually  grew  and  became  the  nucleus  of  a  town. 
He  subsequently  employed  himself  partly  in  the  care 

150       Historical  and  Legendary  Names.    [PART  n. 

of  his  monastery,  and  partly  in  preaching  the 
Gospel  to  the  Ossorians  and  others,  of  whom  he 
converted  great  numbers. 

According  to  a  gloss  in  the  Felire  of  Aengus  at 
the  5th  of  March  (Ciaran's  festival  day),  Saighir 
was  the  name  of  a  fountain  ;  after  the  saint's  time 
it  was  called  Saighir- Ciarain,  which  is  now  con- 
tracted to  Seirkieran,  the  name  of  a  parish  near 
Parsonstown.  Ciaran  is  also  the  patron  of  Rath- 
kieran  in  Kilkenny,  where  he  probably  built  his 
church  near  a  pagan  rath,  which  took  his  name. 

On  the  island  of  Cape  Clear,  traditions  of  St. 
Ciaran  still  flit  among  the  peasantry.  An  ancient 
little  church  retains  the  name  of  Kilkieran  ;  and 
a  strand  in  one  part  of  the  island  is  called  Tra- 
kieran  (Ciaran's  strand),  on  which  stands  a  primi- 
tive stone  cross,  said  to  have  been  made  by  the 
saint's  own  hands. 

St.  Ciaran  established  a  nunnery  near  Seir- 
kieran for  his  mother  Liadhan  [Leean],  or  Lieda- 
nia  ;  and  from  her  the  place  has  since  borne  the 
name  of  Killyon  (Liadhan's  church).  It  is  highly 
probable  that  it  is  from  her  also  that  the  parish  of 
Killyon  in  Meath,  and  the  townland  of  Killyon 
in  the  parish  of  Dunfierth,  Kildare,  received  their 
names.  The  parish  of  Killian  in  Galway,  which 
is  written  Killithain  in  the  Register  of  Clonmac- 
noise,  took  its  name  from  some  saint  of  this  name, 
but  whether  from  St.  Ciaran's  mother,  or  another 
Liedania,  is  uncertain. 

There  were  several  saints  called  Baeithin  [Bwee- 
heen],  of  whom  the  most  distinguished  was 
Baeithin  of  lona,  so  called  because  he  was  a  com- 
panion, relative,  and  disciple  of  St.  Columba,  and 
governed  the  monastery  for  four  years  after  that 
saint's  death:  he  died  the  9th  of  June,  600.  This 
saint,  whom  Columba  very  much  loved,  is  often 

CHAP,  in.]  Early  Irish  Saints.  151 

mentioned  by  Adamnan ;  and  in  O'Clery's  Calen- 
dar lie  is  spoken  of  in  these  words  : — "Baeithin, 
abbot  of  Icolumkille  after  Columkille  himself; 
and  Tech-Baeithin  (Baeithin's  house),  in  Cinel- 
Conaill  (Donegal)  was  his  chief  church,  for  he  was 
of  the  race  of  Conall  Grulban,  son  of  Niall  of  the 
Nine  Hostages."  His  memory  is  still  revered  at 
this  church,  which  is  now  called  Taughboyne,  and 
gives  name  to  a  parish  in  Donegal. 

There  is  another  Tech-Baeithin  in  the  ancient 
territory  of  Airteach  in  Roscommon,  which  also 
gives  name  to  a  parish,  now  called  Tibohine,  the 
patron  saint  of  which  is  a  different  Baeithin.  He 
is  mentioned  in  O'Clery's  Calendar  at  the  19th  of 
February  (his  festival  day)  : — "  Baeithin,  bishop, 
(son  of  Cuana)  of  Tech-Baeithin  in  Airteach,  or  in 
the  west  of  Midhe  (Meath).  He  was  of  the  race 
of  Enda,  son  of  Niall"  [of  the  Nine  Hostages]. 
He  Was  one  of  the  ecclesiastics  to  whom  the  apos- 
tolic letter  was  written  in  the  year  640,  on  the 
subject  of  the  time  for  celebrating  Easter  (see 
Bede,  Hist.  Eccl.,  Lib.  II.,  Cap.  xix.). 

The  church  "  in  the  west  of  Midhe,"  mentioned 
above,  is  Taghboyne,  in  the  parish  of  Churchtown, 
"Westmeath,  where  he  is  also  patron.  He  built 
another  church  near  an  ancient  rath,  not  far  from 
Kells  in  Meath,  and  the  rath  remains,  while  the 
church  has  disappeared ;  hence  it  was  called  Rath- 
Baeithin,  and  in  recent  times  Balrathboyne,  the 
town  of  Baeithin's  rath,  which  is  now  the  name 
of  a  parish. 

Another  Baeithin,  son  of  Finnach,  of  the  race 
of  Laeighsech  Ceannmhor  (see  p.  129),  built  a 
church  at  Ennisboyne  (Baeithin's  island  or  river 
holm),  in  the  parish  of  Dunganstown.  Wicklow, 
where  there  is  still  an  interesting  church  ruin. 
He  is  supposed  to  have  flourished  about  the  begin- 

152       Historical  and  Legendary  Names.    [PART  n. 

ning  of  the  seventh  century.  Crossboyne  in 
Mayo  is  called  in  "  Hy  Fiachrach,"  Cros-BaeUhin, 
i.  e.  St.  Baeithin's  cross ;  but  who  this  Baeithin 
was  I  have  not  been  able  to  ascertain. 

St.  Ninny,  the  patron  of  Inishmacsaint  in  Fer- 
managh, is  commemorated  in  O'Clery's  Calendar 
at  the  17th  of  January,  in  the  following  words  : — 
"Ninnidh,  bishop  of  Inis-muighe-samh,  in  Loch 
Erne  ;  and  he  was  Ninnidh  Saebhruisc  (saebhruisc, 
i.  e.  torvi  oculi),  who  was  of  the  race  of  Enda,  son 
of  Niall "  [of  the  Nine  Hostages]  ;  and  at  the 
16th  of  January  he  is  mentioned  in  the  Mart. 
Taml.  aa  "Ninnid  Lethderc"  (i.  e.  one-eyed). 
He  was  a  disciple  of  St.  Finnian  of  Clonard,  and 
was  a  contemporary  of  St.  Columba. 

Knockninny,  a  hill  in  the  south  of  Fermanagh, 
which  gives  name  to  a  barony,  is  called  Cnoi 
Ninnidh  (Ninny's  hill)  by  the  Four  Masters  ;  and 
though  we  have  no  written  record  of  St.  Ninny's 
connection  with  it,  the  uniform  tradition  of  the 
place  is,  that  the  hill  derived  its  name  from  him. 

St.  Molaga,  or,  as  he  is  sometimes  called, 
Lochein,  was  born  in  the  territory  of  Fermoy  in 
Cork,  where  he  also  received  his  education ;  and 
after  distinguishing  himself  by  piety  and  learning, 
he  established  a  monastery  at  a  place  called 
Tulach-Min  (smooth  little  hill),  in  the  same 

He  visited  Connor,  in  Ulster,  and  thence  pro- 
ceeded to  North  Britain  and  Wales.  On  his  re- 
turn he  settled  for  some  time  in  Fingal,  north  of 
Dublin,  where  he  kept  a  swarm  of  bees,  a  portion 
of  the  bees  brought  over  from  Wales  by  St. 
Modomnoc  of  Tibberaghny  in  Kilkenny.  From 
this  circumstance  the  place  was  called  Lann- 
beachaire  [backera :  O'Clery's  Cal.],  the  church 

CHAP,  in.]         Early  Irish  Saints.  153 

of  the  bee-man.*  This  is  the  ruined  church  and 
cemetery  of  Bremore,  a  little  north  of  Balbrig- 
gan,  now  nameless,  but  which  in  the  Reg.  Alani 
of  the  see  of  Dublin  is  called  Lambeecher.  He 
returned  to  Tulach-mm,  and  died  there  on  the 
20th  of  January,  some  short  time  after  the  year  664. 

He  is  the  patron  saint  of  Templemolaga  near 
Mitchelstown  in  Cork,  where  on  the  bank  of  the 
Puncheon,  in  a  sequestered  spot,  is  situated  his 
church;  it  is  called  in  the  Book  of  Lismore, 
Eidhnen  Malaga — Molaga's  little  ivy  (church),  a 
name  which  most  truly  describes  the  present  ap- 
pearance of  this  venerable  little  ruin.  It  is  now 
called  Templemolaga,  and  gives  name  to  the 
parish ;  and  near  it  is  situated  the  saint's  well, 
Tober-Molaga.  About  four  miles  north-east  of 
Templemolaga  is  the  ruined  church  of  Labbamo- 
laga,  Molaga's  bed  or  grave,  which  gives  name  to 
a  townland.  The  place  called  Tulachmin  was  ob- 
viously identical  with,  or  in  the  immediate 
neighbourhood  of,  Templemolaga ;  but  the  name 
is  now  obsolete. 

Timoleague,  in  the  south  of  Cork,  is  called  by 
the  Four  Masters,  Teach-Molaga,  Molaga's  house ; 
we  have  no  record  of  St.  Molaga's  connection  with 
this  place,  but  there  can  be  little  doubt  that  he 
built  a  church  there,  from  which  the  name  is 
derived  ;  and  the  place  is  still  well  known  for  its 
fine  abbey  ruins. 

*  Giraldus,  among  others,  relates  this  circumstance  of  the 
importation  of  bees  by  St.  Modomnoc,  or  Domnoc,  or  as  he 
calls  him,  Dominicus  : — "  St.  Dominicus  of  Ossory,  as  some 
say,  introduced  bees  into  Ireland,  long  after  the  time  of 
Solinus"  (Top.  Hib.,  Dist.  L,  c.  v.).  Some  records  say  that 
these  were  the  first  bees  brought  to  Ireland,  but  Lanigan  (Vol. 
II.  p.  3B1)  shows  that  there  were  bees  in  the  country  before 
St.  Domnoc's  time.  It  is  evident  that  he  merely  imported 
hive  or  domesticated  bees. 

154        Historical  and  Legendary  Names.    [PART  n. 

St.  Mocheallog  [Mohallog]  or  Dacheallog  flou- 
rished in  the  beginning  of  the  seventh  century. 
According  to  Lanigan,  he  spent  some  time  under 
the  instruction  of  St.  Declan  of  Ardmore,  and 
died  between  the  years  639  and  656.  He  founded 
a  church  at  Kilmallock  in  Limerick,  which  the 
same  author  says  is  supposed  to  be  a  contraction 
of  Cill-Mocheallog ;  but  there  can  be  no  doubt  at 
all  that  it  is  so,  and  for  two  sufficient  reasons  : — 
first,  because  in  the  Felire  of  Aengus  it  is  stated 
at  the  26th  of  March,  St.  Mocheallog's  festival 
day,  that  Cill-Dacheallog  is  in  the  territory  of  Hy 
Carbery  in  Munster,  which  identifies  it  with 
Kilmallock,  as  Hy  Carbery  included  the  barony 
of  Coshma  ;  and,  secondly,  the  inhabitants  at  this 
day,  when  speaking  Irish,  always  call  the  town 
Cill-Mocheallog,  St.  Mocheallog's  Church. 

Finan  was  the  name  of  many  saints,  of  whom 
Finan  surnamed  Lobhar,  or  the  leper,  because  for 
thirty  years  he  was  afflicted  with  some  kind  of 
leprosy,  was  the  most  remarkable.  He  was  a 
native  of  Ely  O'Carroll  in  King's  County,  then 
forming  part  of  Munster,  and  governed  for  some 
time  as  abbot  the  monasteries  of  Swords  near 
Dublin,  and  Clonmore-Mogue  in  Leinster.  He  is 
mentioned  in  O'Clery's  Calendar  at  the  16th  of 
March,  in  the  following  words : — "  Finan  the  leper 
of  Sord,  and  of  Cluain-mor  in  Leinster ;  and  of 
Ard-Fionain  in  Munster ;  he  was  of  the  race  of 
Oian,  son  of  Olioll  Olum."  He  died  between  the 
years  675  and  695. 

He  founded  a  monastery  in  the  island  of  Innis- 
f alien  (see  p.  110),  in  the  lower  lake  of  Killarney ; 
and  that  of  Ardfinnan  in  Tipperary  (mentioned 
above),  which  preserves  his  name.  Kilfinane  in 
Limerick  doubtless  owes  its  foundation  to  this 
Finan  also,  being  called  in  Irish  Cill-Fhionain,  i.  e 

CHAP,  in.*]         Early  Irish  Saints.  155 

Finan's  church  ;  his  well  still  exists,  and  his  festi- 
val was  formerly  celebrated  there,  but  all  memory 
of  the  exact  day  is  lost. 

Another  Finan,  who  was  surnamed  Cam,  i.  e. 
crooked,  because,  as  the  Mart.  Taml.  has  it, 
"  there  was  an  obliquity  in  his  eyes,"  flourished 
in  the  sixth  century.  He  was  a  native  of  Corka- 
guiny  in  Kerry,  and  was  descended  from  Carbery 
Muse.  He  is  the  patron  of  Kinnitty,  in  King's 
County — Ceann-Eitigh,  Etech's  head — so  called 
according  to  a  gloss  in  the  Felire  of  Aengus  at  the 
7th  of  April,  the  saint's  festival  day,  because  the 
head  of  Etech,  an  ancient  Irish  princess,  was 
buried  there.  Derrynane,  the  well-known  seat  of 
the  O'Connell  family,  took  its  name  from  him. — 
Doire-Fhiondin  (Fh  silent) — Finan's  oak-grove  ; 
and  his  house,  one  of  the  beehive-shaped  struc- 
tures, is  still  to  be  seen  on  Church  Island,  in 
Currane  Lough,  four  miles  north  of  Derrynane. 
His  name  is  also  preserved  in  Rahinnane,  Finan's 
fort,  now  a  townland  near  Yentry,  so  called  from 
a  fine  rath,  in  the  centre  of  which  stand  the  ruins 
of  a  castle. 

One  of  the  brightest  ornaments  of  the  Irish 
Church  in  the  seventh  and  eighth  centuries  was 
the  illustrious  Adamnan,  abbot  of  lona,  and  the 
writer  of  the  well-known  Life  of  St.  Columba ; 
whom  the  Venerable  Bede  designates  as  "  a  wise 
and  good  man,  and  most  eminently  learned  in  the 
science  of  the  Holy  Scriptures  "  (Hist.  Eccl.,  Lib. 
V.,  Cap.  xv.).  We  have  no  direct  record  of  the 
exact  place  or  time  of  his  birth,  but  there  is  good 
reason  to  believe  that  he  was  a  native  of  Donegal, 
and  that  he  was  born  about  the  year  627.  He 
was  elected  abbot  of  lona  in  the  year  679.  In 
685  he  was  sent  to  Alfrid,  king  of  the  Northum- 
brian Saxons,  to  solicit  a  restoration  of  some 

156  '    Historical  and  Legendary  Names.   [PART  11. 

captives  that  had  been  carried  ofi  the  previous 
year  from  the  territory  of  Meath  by  Saxon  pirates ; 
and  in  this  mission  he  was  eminently  successful. 
About  the  year  703  he  visited  Ireland  for  the  last 
time,  and  succeeded  in  inducing  most  of  the 
northern  Irish  to  adopt  the  Roman  method  of 
computing  the  time  for  Easter.  He  returned  to 
lona  in  704,  in  which  year  he  died,  in  the  77th 
year  of  his  age. 

The  name  Adamnan  is,  according  to  Cormac's 
Glossary,  an  Irish  diminutive  of  Adam.  It 
is  generally  pronounced  in  three  syllables,  but  its 
proper  Irish  pronunciation  is  Awnaun,  the  d  and 
m  being  both  aspirated  (Adhamhndn).  The  saint's 
name  is  commemorated  in  several  places  in 
Ireland,  and  always,  as  might  be  expected,  in 
this  phonetic  form. 

He  is  the  patron  of  Raphoe,  where  he  was 
called  Eunan,  but  no  place  there  retains  the  name. 
He  is  also  patron  of  Ballindrait  in  the  parish  of 
Clonleigh,  Donegal,  the  Irish  name  of  which  is 
Droichet-Adhamhnain,  St.  Adamnan's  bridge. 
The  modern  designation  has  not  preserved  the 
name  of  the  saint ;  Ballindrait  is  contracted  from 
the  Irish  Baik-an-droichit,  the  town  of  the  bridge. 

Errigal  in  Londonderry  has  Adamnan  also  for 
its  patron,  and  hence  it  was  called  in  Irish  Aire- 
cal-Adhamhnain,  Adamnan's  habitation.  The  old 
church  was  situated  in  the  townland  of  Ballin- 
temple  (the  town  of  the  church] ;  south  of  which 
is  the  only  local  commemoration  of  the  saint's 
name,  viz.,  a  large  stone  called  "Onan's  rock." 

In  the  life  of  St.  Farannan,  published  by 
Colgan,  we  are  informed  that  Tibraide,  lord  of 
Hy  Flachrach,  bestowed  on  St.  Columba  a  place 
called  Cnoc-na-maoile  ;  but  that  it  was  subsequently 
called  Serin- Adhamhnain  from  a  shrine  of  that 

CHAP,  in.]          Early  Irish  Saints.  157 

saint  afterwards  erected  there.  From  this  shrine 
the  parish  of  Skreen  in  Sligo  derived  its  name. 
He  is  there  called  Awnaim,  and  his  well,  Tober- 
awnaun  (which  gives  name  to  a  townland),  lies  a 
few  perches  from  the  old  church. 

There  is  a  townland  called  Syonan  in  the  parish 
of  Ardnurcher  in  Westmeath,  which,  according 
to  the  Annals  of  Clonmacnoise,  received  its  name 
from  him.  The  tradition  of  the  place  is,  that 
Adamnan  in  one  of  his  visits  to  Ireland  preached 
to  the  multitude  on  the  hill  there,  which  has  ever 
since  been  called  Suidhe-Adhamhnain  [Syonan], 
Adamnan's  seat.  Killonan  in  the  parish  of  Derry- 
galvin  in  Limerick,  may  also  have  been  called  so 
from  him,  but  of  this  we  have  no  evidence.* 

The  Martyrology  of  Tallaght,  at  the  3rd  of 
March,  mentions  St.  Moshacra,  the  son  of  Senan, 
of  Teach-Sacra;  and  in  O'Clery's  Calendar  we 
find,  "  Moshacra,  abbot  of  Clonenagh,  and  of 
Teach  Sacra,  in  the  vicinity  of  Tallaght." 

This  Moshacra  or  Sacra  was  one  of  the  fathers 
who  composed  the  synod  held  at  Armagh  about 
the  year  696,  at  which  Adamnan  attended  from 
lona.  He  was  the  founder  and  abbot  of  the 
monastery  at  Teach-Sacra  (Sacra's  house),  a  name 
afterwards  changed  to  Tassagard  (Grace's  Annals) 
and  subsequently  contracted  to  Saggart,  which  is 
now  the  name  of  a  village  and  parish  near 
Tallaght  in  Dublin. 

One  of  the  most  remarkable  among  the  early 
saints  of  Ireland  was  St.  Moling,  bishop  of  Ferns. 
He  was  descended  from  Cahirmore,  monarch  of 
Ireland  in  the  second  century ;  his  mother  was 
Nemnat,  a  native  of  Kerry,  and  he  is  therefore 

*  See  the  Very  Rev.  Dean  Reeves'  Edition  of  Adamnan's 
Life  of  St.  Columba,  from  which  the  above  account  has  been 

158     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

often  called  Moling  Luachra,  from  the  district  of 
Luachair,  on  the  borders  of  Cork,  Kerry,  and 
Limerick.  At  his  intercession,  and  in  opposition 
to  the  advice  of  St.  Adamnan,  Finaghta,  king  of 
Ireland  remitted  the  Borumha  or  cow-tribute  to 
the  Leinstermen,  which  had  been  exacted  for  cen- 
turies, and  which  was  reimposed  many  years 
afterwards  by  Brian  Borumha.  He  died  on  the 
17th  of  May,  697. 

He  is  mentioned  in  O'Clery's  Calendar  as  "  Mo- 
ling Luachra,  bishop  and  confessor,  of  Tigh- 
Moling."  This  place  is  situated  on  the  Barrow,  in 
the  south  of  the  county  of  Carlow,  and  was  origi- 
nally called  Eosbroc,  badger  wood ;  but  the  saint 
erected  a  church  there  about  the  middle  of  the 
seventh  century,  and  it  was  afterwards  called 
Tigh-Moling  [Tee-Moling],  i.  e.  St.  Moling's  house, 
which  is  now  reduced  to  St.  Mullins.  The  village 
of  Timolin  in  Kildare,  took  its  name  from  a  church 
erected  there  by  him,  and  it  preserves  more  cor- 
rectly the  original  form,  Tigh-Moling. 

St.  Aengus  the  Culdee — or,  as  he  is  often  called, 
Aengus  the  Hagiologist — embraced  a  religious 
life  in  the  monastery  of  Clonenagh,  in  Queen's 
County ;  and  having  made  great  progress  in 
learning  and  holiness,  he  entered  the  monastery  of 
Tallaght,  near  Dublin.  There  he  spent  several 
years  under  St.  Maelruin,  whom  he  assisted  to 
compile  a  Calendar  of  saints,  which  is  well  known 
as  the  Marty rology  of  Tallaght.  He  was  the 
author  of  a  still  more  celebrated  work,  which  is 
now  commonly  known  as  the  Felire  of  Aengus,  a 
metrical  calendar,  in  which  the  saints  of  each  day 
are  commemorated  in  a  stanza  of  four  lines.  He 
died,  according  to  the  most  probable  accounts, 
about  the  year  824.* 

*  See  the  Life  of  St.  Aengus  the  Culdee,  by  the  Rev.  John 

CHAP,  iv.]  Legends.  159 

He  built  a  cell  for  himself  in  a  lonely  spot  near 
Clonenagh,  to  which  he  frequently  retired  for 
meditation  and  prayer,  and  it  was  called  from  him 
Disert-Aengusa,  Aengus's  hermitage,  now  modern- 
ised to  Dysartenos.  Dysert  near  Croom  in  Lime- 
rick was  formerly  called  Dysert-Enos,  and  it 
probably  received  its  name  from  the  same  saint. 
The  place  is  now  well  known  for  its  very  ancient 
church  ruin  and  its  round  tower. 



MANY  of  the  legends  with  which  the  early  history 
of  our  country  abounds  are  no  doubt  purely  fabu- 
lous, the  inventions  of  the  old  shanachies  or  story 
tellers.  Great  numbers,  on  the  other  hand,  are 
obviously  founded  on  historical  events ;  but  they 
have  been  so  distorted  and  exaggerated  by  succes- 
sive generations  of  romances,  so  interwoven  with 
strange  or  supernatural  circumstances,  or  so  far 
removed  from  their  true  date  into  the  regions  of 
antiquity,  that  they  have  in  many  cases  quite  lost 
the  look  of  probability.  It  is  impossible  to  draw 
an  exact  line  of  demarcation  between  what  is 
partly  real  and  what  is  wholly  fictitious;  but 
some  of  these  shadowy  relations  possess  certain 
marks,  and  are  corroborated  by  independent  cir- 
cumstances, which  render  it  extremely  probable 
that  they  have  a  foundation  of  truth. 

It  must  be  carefully  borne  in  mind  that  the 
correctness  of  the  interpretations  given  in  this 
chapter  is  not  at  all  affected  by  the  truth  or  false- 

160      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

hood  of  the  legends  connected  with  the  names. 
It  is  related  in  the  Dinnsenchus,  that  Conall 
Cearnach,  one  the  most  renowned  of  the  Red 
Branch  Knights  of  Ulster  in  the  first  century, 
lived  in  his  old  age  at  Cruachan,  the  royal  palace 
of  Maev,  queen  of  Connaught.  Olioll  More, 
Maev's  husband,  was  slain  by  the  old  warrior  with 
a  cast  of  a  javelin ;  and  the  men  of  Connaught 
pursued  and  overtook  him  at  a  ford  over  a  river  in 
the  present  county  of  Cavan,  where  the  village  of 
Ballyconnel  now  stands.  There  they  slew  him,  so 
that  the  place  was  ever  after  called  Bel-atha- 
Chonaill  [Bellaconnell] ;  and  this  event  is  still 
remembered  in  the  traditions  of  the  neighbour- 

The  reader  may  or  may  not  believe  this  story  j 
nevertheless  the  name  signifies  ConalTs  ford- 
mouth,  for  we  find  it  always  written  in  Irish 
authorities,  and  pronounced  at  this  day  by  the 
natives,  Bel-atha-Chonaitt ;  and  it  is  certain  that  it 
took  its  name  from  some  man  named  Conall, 
whether  it  be  Conal  Cearnach  or  not. 

The  accounts  handed  down  to  us  of  the  early 
colonies  belong  to  the  class  of  historical  legends. 
I  have  included  some  of  them  in  the  chapter  on 
historical  events,  and  others  I  shall  bring  in  here; 
but  in  this  case  too  it  is  difficult,  and  sometimes 
impossible,  to  determine  the  line  of  separation. 
They  have  been  transmitted  from  several  ancient 
authorities,  and  always  with  remarkable  consist- 
ency; many  of  them  are  reflected  in  the  tradi- 
tions of  the  peasantry ;  and  the  truth  of  several  is 
confirmed  by  present  existing  monuments.  But 
to  most  of  them  the  old  historians  have  assigned 
an  antiquity  so  incredible  or  absurd,  that  many 
reject  them  on  this  account  as  a  mass  of  fables. 

The  first  who  led  a  colony  to  Ireland,  according 

CHAP,  iv.]  Legends.  161 

to  our  bardic  histories,  was  a  woman  named  Cea- 
sair  or  Casar,  who  came  forty  days  before  the 
deluge,  with  fifty  young  women  and  three  men — 
Bith  [Bih],  Ladhra  [Lara],  and  Fintan.  Ceasair 
and  the  three  IT  en  died  soon  after  their  arrival,  and 
gave  names  to  four  different  places ;  but  they  are 
all  now  forgotten  with  one  exception.  Bith  was 
buried  on  a  mountain,  which  was  called  from  him 
Sliabh  Beatha  [Slievebaha] .  It  is  well  known 
and  retains  the  very  same  name  in  Irish  ;  but  it 
is  called  in  English  Slieve  Beagh — a  range  situ- 
ated on  the  confines  of  Monaghan,  Fermanagh, 
and  Tyrone.  Bith's  cairn  still  exists,  and  is  a 
large  and  conspicuous  monument  on  the  top  of  a 
hill,  in  the  townland  of  Carnmore  (to  which  it 
gives  name),  parish  of  Clones,  Fermanagh ;  and 
it  may  be  seen  from  the  top  of  the  moat  of  Clones, 
distant  about  seven  miles  north-west.* 

The  first  leader  of  a  colony  after  the  flood  was 
Parthalon,  who,  with  his  followers,  ultimately  took 
up  his  residence  on  the  plain  anciently  called  Sean- 
mhagh  Ealta-Edair  [Shan-va-alta-edar],  the  old 
plain  of  the  flocks  of  Edar,  which  stretched  along  the 
coast  by  Dublin,  from  Tallaght  to  Edar,  or  Howth. 
The  legend — which  is  given  in  several  very  ancient 
authorities — relates  that  after  the  people  of  this 
colony  had  lived  there  for  300  years,  they  were 
destroyed  by  a  plague,  which  in  one  week  carried 
off  5,000  men  and  4,000  women ;  and  they  were 
buried  in  a  place  called,  from  this  circumstance, 
Taimhleacht-Mhuintire-Parthaloin  (Four  Mast.),  the 
Tamlaght  or  plague-grave  of  Parthalon's  people. 
This  place,  which  lies  about  five  miles  from 
Dublin,  still  retains  the  name  Taimhleacht,  mo- 
dernised to  Tallaght;  and  on  the  hill  lying  beyond 

*  See  O'Dcmovan'a  Four  Masters,  Vol.  I.,  p.  3. 
VOL.  I.  12 

162      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

the  village,  there  is  to  be  seen  at  this  day  a  re- 
markable collection  of  ancient  sepulchral  tumuli, 
in  which  cinerary  urns  are  found  in  great 

The  word  Taimhkacht,  a  plague-monument — a 
place  where  people  who  died  of  an  epidemic  were 
buried — is  pretty  common  as  ;.  local  appellative  in 
various  parts  of  Ireland,  under  different  forms : 
it  is  of  pagan  origin,  and  so  far  as  I  know  is  not 
applied  to  a  Christian  cemetery,  except  by  adop- 
tion, like  other  pagan  terms.  In  the  northern 
counties  it  is  generally  made  Tamlaght  and 
Tamlat,  while  in  other  places  it  takes  the  forms  of 
Tawlaght,  Towlaght,  and  Toulett. 

In  combination  with  other  words,  the  first  t  is 
often  aspirated,  which  softens  it  down  still  more. 
Thus  Derryhowlaght  and  Derryhawlagh  in  Fer- 
managh, is  the  oak-grove  of  the  plague-grave; 
Doohamlat  in  Monaghan,  and  Doohallat  in  Cavan, 
black  grave.  Magherahamlet  in  Down,  is  called 
on  the  Down  Survey,  Mayherehowktt,  and  in  a 
patent  of  James  I.,  MagJwrhamlaght,  both  of  which 
point  to  the  Irish  Machaire-thaimhkachta  [Mahera- 
navlaghta],  the  field  of  the  plague-grave. 

The  Fomorians — a  race  of  pirates  who  infested 
the  coasts  of  Ireland,  and  oppressed  the  inhabi- 
tants— are  much  celebrated  in  our  histories.  They 
came  to  Ireland  in  the  time  of  Nemed  (who  led 
another  colony,  thirty  years  after  the  destruction 
of  Parthalon's  people) ;  and  their  principle  strong- 
hold was  Tory  island.  Balor  of  the  great  blows 
was  their  chief,  and  two  of  the  tower-like  rocks 
on  the  east  side  of  Tory  are  still  called  Balor'e 
castle  and  Balor's  prison. 

His  wife,  Cethlenn  (Kehlen),  seems  to  have 
been  worthy  of  her  husband.  She  fought  at  the 
second  battle  of  Moytura,  and  inflicted  a  wound 

CHAP,  iv.]  Legends.  163 

on  the  Dagda,  the  king  of  the  Dedannans,  of  which 
he  afterwards  died.  It  is  stated  in  the  Annals  of 
Clonmacnoise  that  Enniskillen  received  its  name 
from  her:  in  the  Irish  authorities  it  is  always 
called  Inis-Cethlenn,  Cethlenn's  island. 

At  this  time  there  lived  on  the  mainland,  oppo- 
site Tory,  a  chieftain  named  Mac  Kineely,  who 
was  the  owner  of  the  Glasgavlen,  a  celebrated 
cow,  remembered  in  tradition  all  over  Ireland. 
Balor  possessed  himself  of  the  Glas  by  a  stratagem, 
and  carried  her  off  to  Tory  ;  and  then  Mao  Kineely, 
Acting  on  the  directions  of  a  fairy  called  Biroge  of 
the  mountain,  concerted  a  plan  of  revenge,  which 
many  years  after  led  to  the  death  of  Balor.  "When 
Balor  became  aware  of  this,  he  landed  with  his 
band  on  the  mainland  coast,  and  seized  on  Mac 
Kineely ;  and,  placing  his  head  on  a  large  white 
stone,  he  cut  it  clean  off  with  one  blow  of  his 

Hence  the  place  was  called  Clock-  Chinnfhaelaidh, 
which  is  the  name  used  by  the  Four  Masters  and 
other  authorities,  signifying  Kinfaela's  or  Kineely's 
ptone ;  and  the  pronunciation  is  well  preserved  in 
the  present  name  of  the  place,  Cloghineely.  The 
stone  is  still  to  be  seen,  and  is  very  carefully  pre- 
served ;  it  is  veined  with  red,  which  is  the  stain 
of  Mac  Kineely's  blood  that  penetrated  to  its 
centre ;  and  the  tourist  who  is  a  lover  of  legend 
may  indulge  his  taste  among  the  people,  who  will 
tell  endless  stories  regarding  this  wonderful  stone.* 

From  the  same  people  the  Giant's  Causeway 
has  derived  its  name.  It  is  called  in  Irish  Clochan- 
na-bhFomharaigh  [Clohanavowry :  O'Brien'B  Diet, 
voce  Fomhar~\ — the  cloghan,  or  stopping-stones,  01 

*  See  O'Donovan's  Four  Masters,  Vol.  I.,  p.  18,  for  a  very 
full  version  of  this  legend. 

164      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

causeway  of  the  Fomorians;  and  as  those  sea 
rovers  were  magnified  into  giants  in  popular 
legend,  the  name  came  to  be  translated  "  Giant's 

The  celebrities  of  the  Dedannan  colony  have 
left  their  names  on  many  localities.  From  the 
princess  Danann  some  suppose  they  derive  their 
name ;  and  from  her  also  two  remarkable  moun- 
tains in  Kerry  were  called  Da-chich-Danainne,  the 
two  paps  of  Danann,  now  well  known  as  The 

One  of  the  most  celebrated  characters  among 
this  people  was  Manannan  Mac  Lir,  of  whom  we 
are  told  in  Cormac's  Glossary  and  other  ancient 
authorities,  that  he  was  a  famous  merchant  who 
resided  in,  and  gave  name  to  Inis  Manann,  or  the 
Isle  of  Man;  that  he  was  the  best  merchant  in 
western  Europe ;  and  that  he  used  to  know,  by 
examining  the  heavens,  the  length  of  time  the  fair 
and  the  foul  weather  would  last. 

He  was  also  called  Orbsen ;  and  he  was  killed  by 
Ullin,  grandson  of  Nuad  of  the  silver  hand,  in  a 
battle  fought  at  Moycullen  near  Lough  Corrib,  in 
which  the  two  chiefs  contended  for  the  sovereignty 
of  Connaught ;  and  when  his  grave  was  dug,  it 
was  then  Loch  Orbsen  burst  [out  of  the  grave] 
over  the  land,  so  that  it  is  from  him  that  Loch 
Orbsen  is  named.  (Yellow  Book  of  Lecan,  quoted 
by  O'Curry,  Atlantis,  VII.,  p.  228).  This  lake  is 
called  Loch  Orbsen  (Orbsen's  lake^  in  all  our  autho- 
rities ;  and  this  was  changed  to  the  present  name, 
Lough  Corrib,  by  omitting  the  final  syllable,  and 
by  the  attraction  of  the  c  sound  from  Loch  to 
Orbsen;  Boate  has  it  in  the  intermediate  form, 
Lough  Corbes. 

Many  of  the  legendary  heroes  of  the  Milesian 
eolonv  are  also  remembered  m  local  names.  When 

CHAP,  iv.]  Legends.  165 

the  sons  of  Milesius  came  to  invade  Ireland,  a 
storm  was  raised  by  the  incantations  of  the 
Dedannans  which  drove  them  from  Inver  Sceine, 
or  Kenmare  bay,  where  they  had  attempted  to 
land,  scattered  their  fleet  along  the  coast,  and 
drowned  many  of  their  chiefs  and  people.  Donn, 
one  of  the  brothers,  and  all  the  crew  of  his  ship 
were  lost  on  a  range  of  rocks  off  Kenmare  bay, 
afterwards  called  in  memory  of  the  chief,  Teach- 
Dhoinn,  i.  e.  Donn's  House,  which  is  the  name 
used  by  the  Irish-speaking  peasantry  at  the  pre- 
sent day  ;  but  they  are  called  in  English,  the  Bull, 
Cow,  and  Calf. 

Colpa  the  swordsman,  another  of  the  brothers, 
was  drowned  in  attempting  to  land  at  the  mouth 
of  the  Boyne,  and  that  part  of  the  river  was  called 
from  him  Inver  Colptha  [Colpa :    Four   Mast.], 
Colpa's  river-mouth.     This  name  is  no  longer  ap- 
plied to  it ;  but  the  parish  of  Colp,  lying  on  its 
southern  bank,  retains  the  name  with  little  change. 
Eimher  [Eiver],  son  of  Milesius,  landed  with 
his  followers  at  Inver  Sceine,  and  after  three  days 
they  fought  a  battle    against    a   party  of  the 
Dedannans  at  Slieve  Mish,  near  Tralee,  where 
fell  Scota,  the  wife  of  Milesius,  and  Fas,  wife  of 
Un.     Fas  was  interred  in  a  glen,  called  from  her 
Gleann-Faisi  (Four  Mast.)  ;  it  is  now  called  Gleno- 
faush,  and  is  situated  at  the  base  of  Caherconree 
mountain  about  seven  miles  west  of  Tralee.     The 
Four  Masters  state  that  "  the  grave  of  Scota  is  to 
be  seen  between  Slieve  Mish  and  the  sea ; "  it  is 
still  well  known  by  the  name  of  Scota' s  grave,  and 
is  situated  by  the  Finglas   stream;  the  glen  is 
called  Grlenscoheen,  Scotina's  or  Scota' s  glen ;  and 
the  monument,   which  was  explored  some  years 
ago  by  a  party  of  antiquaries,  still  remains. 

A  decisive  battle  was  afterwards    fought   at 

166      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.      [PART  11. 

Tailltenn  or  Teltown  in  Meath,  in  which  the 
Dedannans  were  finally  routed.  In  following  up 
the  pursuit,  two  distinguished  Milesian  chief- 
tains were  slain,  namely,  Fuad  and  Cuailnge,  the 
sons  of  Brogan,  grandfather  of  Milesius.  The 
former  fell  at  Sliabh  Fuaid  (Four  Mast. :  Fuad's 
mountain),  near  Newtownhamilton  in  Armagh, 
which  still  retains  the  name  of  Slieve  Fuad  ;  it  is 
the  highest  of  the  Fews  range  ;  but  the  two  words, 
Fuad  and  Feios,  have  no  connection,  the  former 
being  much  the  more  ancient. 

The  place  where  Cuailnge  [Cooley]  fell  was 
called  Sliabh  Cuailnge  (Four  Mast.) ;  it  is  the 
mountainous  peninsula  lying  between  the  bays  of 
Dundalk  and  Carlingford,  and  the  range  of  heights 
still  bears  tie  name  of  the  Cooley  Mountains. 
From  Bladh  [Blaw],  another  of  Brogan's  sons, 
wap  named  Sliabh  Bladhma  ( Slieve-Blawma  ;  Four 
Masters),  now  called  Slievebloom.  Whether  this 
is  the  same  person  who  is  commemorated  in  Lick- 
bla  in  Westmeath,  I  cannot  tell;  but  the  name 
signifies  "  Bladh's  flagstone,"  for  the  Four  Mas- 
ters write  it  Liag-Bladhma. 

Fial,  the  wife  of  Lewy  (son  of  Ith,  the  uncle  oi 
Milesius),  gave  name  to  the  river  Feale  in  Kerry ; 
tho  legend  says  that  her  husband  unexpectedly 
came  in  sight,  while  she  stood  naked  after  bathing 
in  tlie  stream  ;  and  that  she,  not  recognising  him, 
imr\ediately  died  through  fear  and  shame.  An 
abbey,  built  in  later  ages  on  its  banks,  was  called 
in  Irish  Mainistir-na-Feik,  i.  e.  the  abbey  of  the 
river  Feale,  which  is  now  called  Abbeyfeale,  and 
gives  name  to  the  town. 

Legends  about  cows  are  very  common.  Our 
Annals  relate  that  Breasal  Boidhiobhadh  [Bo- 
yeeva]  son  of  Rury,  ascended  the  throne  of  Ire- 
land, A.M.  5001.  He  received  his  cognomen, 

CHAP,  iv.]  Legends.  167 

because  there  was  a  great  mortality  of  cows  in  his 
reign :  bo,  a  cow,  diobhadh,  death.  The  Annals  of 
Clonmacnoise  mention  this  event  in  the  following 
words : — "  In  his  time  there  was  such  a  morren  of 
cows  in  this  land,  as  there  were  no  more  then  left 
alive  hut  one  Bull  and  one  Heiffer  in  the  whole 
kingdom,  which  Bull  and  Heiffer  lived  at  a  place 
called  Q-leann  Sawasge."  This  glen  is  situated  in 
the  county  of  Kerry,  in  the  parish  of  Templenoe, 
north-west  of  Kenmare,  and  near  the  valley  of 
Glencare ;  and  it  is  still  called  Okann-samhaisce 
[sowshke],  the  valley  of  the  heifer.  The  tradition 
is  well  remembered  in  the  county,  and  they  tell 
many  wonderful  stories  of  this  bull  and  heifer, 
from  which,  they  maintain,  the  whole  race  of 
Irish  cows  is  descended. 

There  is  a  small  lake  in  the  island  of  Inishbofin, 
off  the  coast  of  Connemara,  in  which  there  livea 
an  enchanted  white  cow,  or  bo-Jinn,  which  appears 
above  the  waters  at  certain  times  ;  hence  the  lake 
is  called  Loch-bo-finne,  the  lake  of  the  white  cow, 
and  it  has  given  name  to  the  island.  Bede  calls 
the  island  Inis-bo-finde,  and  interprets  it  "  the 
island  of  the  white  cow." 

There  is  another  Inishbofin  in  Lough  Eee  on  the 
Shannon,  which  in  Colgan's  Life  of  St.  Aidus  is 
similarly  translated;  another  off  the  coast  of 
Donegal,  south  of  Tory  island.  We  find  also  several 
lakes  in  different  parts  of  Ireland  called  Lough 
Bonn,  the  white  cow's  lake ;  Lough  Boderg  (of 
the  red  cow),  is  a  lake  on  the  Shannon  south  of 
Carrick-on-Shannon  ;  Corrabofin  near  Ballybay  in 
Monaghan  (properly  Carrowbofin,  the  quarter- 
land  of  the  white  cow) ;  Gortbofinna  (Gort,  a  field), 
near  Mallow  in  Cork,  Drombofinny  (Drom,  a 
ridge)  in  the  parish  of  Desertserges,  same  county  ; 
Lisbofin  in  Fermanagh  and  Armagh ;  LisbodufF 

168        Historical  and  Legendary  Names.   [PART  n. 

(the  fort  of  the  black  cow),  in  Cavan,  and  many 
others.  It  is  very  probable  that  these  names  also 
are  connected  with  legends. 

There  are  several  places  in  Ireland  whose  names 
end  with  urcher,  from  the  Irish  word  urchur,  a 
throw,  cast,  or  shot.  In  every  such  place  there  is 
a  legend  of  some  remarkable  cast  of  a  weapon, 
memorable  for  its  prodigious  length,  for  killing 
some  great  hero,  a  wild  animal,  or  infernal  ser- 
pent, or  for  some  other  sufficient  reason.  For 
example,  Urcher  itself  is  the  name  of  three  town- 
lands  in  Armagh,  Cavan,  and  Monaghan ;  and  in 
the  last- mentioned  county,  in  the  parish  of  Currin, 
there  is  a  place  called  Drumurcher,  the  ridge  of 
the  cast. 

The  most  remarkable  of  these  mighty  casts  is 
commemorated  at  the  place  now  called  Ardnurcher, 
in  Westmeath — a  cast  that  ultimately  caused  the 
death  of  Conor  Mac  Nessa,  king  of  Ulster  in  the 
first  century.  The  name  Ardnurcher  is  a  cor- 
ruption, and  the  proper  form  would  be  Athnurcher ; 
the  Four  Masters,  in  recording  the  erection  of  the 
castle  in  1192,  whose  ruins  are  still  there,  call  it 
Ath-an-urchair ;  and  the  natives  still  call  it  in 
Irish  Baile-atha-an-urchair,  which  they  pronounce 

Conall  Cearnach,  on  a  certain  occasion,  slew  in 
single  combat  a  Leinster  chieftain  named  Mesgedh- 
ra  [Mesgera],  whose  brains — according  to  the 
barbarous  custom  then  prevalent — he  mixed  with 
lime,  and  made  of  them  a  hard  round  ball,  which 
he  kept  both  as  a  weapon  and  as  a  trophy.  There 
was  at  this  time  a  war  raging  between  Ulster  and 
Connaught,  and  Ceat  [Keth]  mac  Magach,  a  Con- 
naught  chief,  having  by  stratagem  obtained  pos- 
session of  the  ball,  kept  it  always  slung  from  his 
girdle ;  for  it  had  been  prophesied  that  Messera 

CHAP,  iv.j  Legends.  169 

would  be  revenged  of  the  Ulstermen  after  his 
death,  and  Keth  hoped  that  this  prophecy  would 
be  fulfilled  by  means  of  the  ball. 

Keth  went  one  time  with  his  band,  to  plunder 
some  of  the  Ulster  territories,  and  returning  with 
a  great  spoil  of  cattle,  he  was  pursued  and  over- 
taken by  an  army  of  Ulstermen  under  the  com- 
mand of  Conor,  and  a  battle  was  fought  between 
them.  The  Connaught  chief  contrived  to  separate 
the  king  from  his  party,  and  watching  his  oppor- 
tunity he  cast  the  ball  at  him  from  his  tabhall  or 
sling ;  and  the  ball  struck  the  king  on  the  head, 
and  lodged  in  his  skull.  His  physician,  Fingen, 
was  brought,  and  he  declared  that  the  king  would 
die  immediately  if  the  ball  were  removed ;  but 
that  if  it  were  left  so,  and  provided  the  king  kept 
himself  free  from  all  inquietude,  he  would  live. 

And  his  head  was  stitched  up  with  a  golden 
thread,  and  he  lived  in  this  state  for  seven  years, 
till  the  day  of  our  Lord's  crucifixion ;  when  ob- 
serving the  unusual  darkness,  he  sent  for  Bacrach, 
his  druid,  and  asked  Him  what  it  meant.  Bacrach 
told  him  that  the  Son  of  God  was  on  that  day 
crucified  by  the  Jews.  "  That  is  a  pity,"  said 
Conor ;  "  were  I  in  his  presence,  I  would  slay  those 
who  were  around  my  king,  putting  him  to  death." 
And  with  that  he  rushed  at  a  grove  that  stood 
near,  and  began  hewing  it  with  his  sword,  to  show 
how  he  would  deal  with  the  Jews  ;  and  from  the 
excessive  fury  which  seized  him,  the  ball  started 
from  his  head,  and  some  of  his  brain  gushed  out ; 
and  in  that  way  he  died. 

The  place  where  Conor  was  wounded  was  called 
Ath-an-urchair,  the  ford  of  the  cast ;  which 
Michael  O'Clery,  in  a  fly-leaf  note  in  O'Clery's 
Calendar,  identifies  with  Ath-an-urchair  or  Ard- 
nurcher  in  Westmeath  (see  O'Curry's  Lect.,  p. 

1 70      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

Many  other  legendary  exploits  of  the  heroic 
times  are  commemorated  in  local  names,  as  well 
as  casts  of  a  spear.  A  favourite  mode  of  exhibit- 
ing physical  activity  among  the  ancients,  as  well 
as  the  moderns,  was  by  a  leap  ;  but  if  we  are  to 
believe  in  the  prodigious  bounds  ascribed  by  legend 
to  some  of  our  forefathers,  the  members  of  our 
athletic  clubs  may  well  despair  of  competing  with 
them.  The  word  ttim,  a  leap,  will  be  discussed 
hereafter,  but  I  may  remark  here  that  it  is  gene- 
rally applied  to  these  leaps  of  the  ancient  heroes. 

The  legend  that  gave  name  to  Loop  Head  in 
Clare  is  still  well  remembered  by  the  people. 
Cuchullin  [Cuhullin],  the  chief  of  the  Red 
Branch  knights  of  Ulster,  endeavouring  once  to 
escape  from  a  woman  named  Mai,  by  whom  he 
was  pursued,  made  his  way  southwards  to  the  ex- 
tremity of  the  county  of  Clare,  where  he  un- 
happily found  himself  in  a  cul-de-sac,  with  the 
furious  termagant  just  behind  him.  There  is  a 
little  rock  called  Bullan-na-le'ime  (leap  rock), 
rising  over  the  waves,  about  twenty-five  feet 
beyond  the  cape,  on  which  the  chief  alighted  with 
a  great  bound  from  the  mainland  ;  and  the  woman, 
nothing  daunted  by  the  raging  chasm,  sprang 
after  him;  when,  exerting  all  his  strength,  he 
leaped  back  again  to  the  mainland — a  much  more 
difficult  feat  than  the  first — and  his  pursuer,  at- 
tempting to  follow  him,  fell  short  into  the  boiling 
sea.  Hence  the  cape  was  called  L6im-  Chonchuillinn, 
Cuchullin's  Leap,  which  is  the  name  always  used 
by  ancient  Irish  writers,  as  for  instance  by  the 
Four  Masters  ;  afterwards  it  was  more  commonly 
called,  as  it  is  at  the  present  day  in  Irish,  Ceann- 
Ltime  [Canleama],  the  head  of  the  leap,  or  Leap 
Head,  which  seems  to  have  been  modified  into 
the  present  name  Loop  Head  by  the  Danes  of  the 

CHAP,  iv.]  Legends.  171 

lower  Shannon :  Danish  hlaup,  a  leap.  The 
woman's  body  was  swept  northwards  by  the  tide, 
and  was  found  at  the  southern  point  of  the  clifEu 
of  Moher,  which  was  therefore  called  Ceann  cail- 
lighe  [Cancallee]  or  Hag's  Head:  moreover  the 
sea  all  along  was  dyed  with  her  blood,  and  it  was 
called  Tonn-Mal  or  Mai's  Wave,  but  it  is  now 
known  by  the  name  of  Mai  Bay.  Ceann-Ltime  is 
also  the  Irish  name  of  Slyne  Head  in  Galway ; 
but  I  do  not  know  the  legend,  if  there  be  one 
(see  page  82,  supra). 

There  are  several  places  whose  names  contain 
this  word  Uim  in  such  a  way  as  to  render  it  prob- 
able that  they  are  connected  with  legends.  Such 
for  example  is  Leamirlea  in  the  parish  of  KilmaJ.- 
kedar,  Kerry,  Leim-fhir-kith,  the  leap  of  the 
grey  man ;  Leamydoody  and  Leamyglissan  in 
Kerry,  and  Lemybrien  in  Waterford ;  which 
mean,  respectively,  O'Dowd's,  O'Gleeson's,  and 
O'Brien's  leap ;  Carrigleamleary  near  Mallow, 
which  is  called  in  the  Book  of  Lismore,  Carraig- 
leme-Laeguiri,  the  rock  of  Laeghaire's  or  Leary's 
leap.  Leap  Castle  in  King's  County,  near  Ros- 
crea,  the  ruins  of  which  are  still  to  be  seen,  is 
called  by  the  Four  Masters  Leim-ui-Bhanain 
[Leamyvannan],  O'Banan's  leap. 

The  name  of  Lough  Derg,  on  the  Shannon,  re- 
minds us  of  the  almost  unlimited  influence  of  the 
bards  in  old  times,  of  the  merciless  way  in  which 
they  often  exercised  it,  and  the  mingled  feelings 
of  dread  and  reverence  with  which  they  were  re- 
garded by  all,  both  nobles  and  people.  This  great 
and  long- continued  power,  which  some  of  the 
Irish  monarchs  found  it  necessary  to  check  by 
severe  legislation,  is  an  undoubted  historic  fact ; 
and  the  legend  transmits  a  very  vivid  picture  of 
it,  whether  the  circumstance  it  records  happened 

172     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.      [PART  11. 

or  not.  It  is  one  of  the  incidents  in  an  ancient 
tale  called  Talland  Etair,  or  the  Siege  of  Howth 
(see  O'Curry's  Lect.,  p.  266). 

Aithirne  [Ahirny],  a  celebrated  Ulster  poet  of 
the  time  of  Conor  mac  Nessa,  once  undertook  a 
journey  through  Ireland,  and  of  every  king 
through  whose  territories  he  passed,  he  made  the 
most  unreasonable  and  outrageous  request  he  could 
think  of,  none  of  whom  dared  refuse  him.  Eochy 
mac  Luchta  was  at  that  time  king  of  south  Con- 
naught  and  Thomond,  and  had  but  one  eye.  The 
malicious  poet,  when  leaving  his  kingdom,  asked 
him  for  his  eye,  which  the  king  at  once  plucked 
out  and  gave  him ;  and  then  desiring  his  atten- 
dant to  lead  him  down  to  the  lake,  on  the  shore  of 
which  he  had  his  residence,  he  stooped  down  and 
washed  the  blood  from  his  face.  The  attendant 
remarked  to  him  that  the  lake  was  red  with  his 
blood  ;  and  the  king  thereupon  said : — "  Then 
Loch-Dergdherc  [Dergerk]  shall  be  its  name  for 
ever ; "  and  so  the  name  remains.  The  lake  is 
called  by  this  name,  which  signifies  "  the  lake  of 
the  red  eye,"  in  all  our  old  authorities,  and  the 
present  name  Lough  Derg  is  merely  a  contraction 
of  the  original. 

In  the  parish  of  Kilgobban  in  Kerry,  about 
eight  miles  west  of  Tralee,  is  situated  the  beauti- 
ful valley  of  Glannagalt ;  and  it  was  believed  not 
only  in  Kerry,  but  over  the  whole  of  Ireland, 
wherever  the  glen  was  known,  that  all  lunatics, 
no  matter  in  what  part  of  the  country,  would  ul- 
timately, if  left  to  themselves,  find  their  way  to 
this  glen  to  be  cured.  Hence  the  name,  Gkann- 
na-ngealt,  the  valley  of  the  lunatics.  There  are 
two  wells  in  the  glen,  called  Tobernagalt,  the 
lunatics'  well,  to  which  the  madmen  direct  their 
way,  crossing  the  little  stream  that  flows  through 

CHAP,  iv.]  Legends.  173 

the  valley,  at  a  spot  called  Ahagaltaun,  the  mad- 
man's ford,  and  passing  by  Cloghnagalt,  the 
standing  stone  of  the  lunatics  ;  and  they  drink  of 
the  healing  waters,  and  eat  some  of  the  cresses 
that  grow  on  the  margin ; — the  water  and  the 
cress,  and  the  secret  virtue  of  the  valley  will  re- 
store the  poor  wanderers  to  sanity. 

The  belief  that  gave  origin  to  these  strange 
pilgrimages,  whatever  may  have  been  its  source, 
is  of  great  antiquity.  In  the  ancient  Fenian  tale 
called  Cath  Finntragha,  or  "The  battle  of 
Ventry,"  we  are  told  that  Dara  Dornmar,  "  The 
monarch  of  the  world,"  landed  at  Ventry  to  sub- 
jugate Erin,  the  only  country  yet  unconquered ; 
and  Finn-mac- Cumhail  and  his  warriors  marched 
southwards  to  oppose  him.  Then  began  a  series 
of  combats,  which  lasted  for  a  year  and  a  day,  and 
Erin  was  successfully  defended  against  the  inva- 
ders. In  one  of  these  conflicts,  Gall,  the  son  of 
the  king  of  Ulster,  a  youth  of  fifteen,  who  had 
come  to  Finn's  assistance,  "  having  entered  the 
battle  with  extreme  eagerness,  his  excitement  soon 
increased  to  absolute  frenzy,  and  after  having  per- 
formed astounding  deeds  of  valour,  he  fled  in  a 
state  of  derangement  from  the  scene  of  slaughter, 
and  never  stopped  till  he  plunged  into  the  wild 
seclusion  of  this  valley"  (O'Curry,  Lect.,  p.  315). 
O'Curry  seems  to  say  that  Gall  was  the  first 
lunatic  who  went  there,  and  that  the  custom 
originated  with  him. 

There  is  another  legend,  well  known  in  Do- 
negal, which  accounts  for  the  name  of  Lough 
Finn,  and  of  the  river  Finn,  which  issues  from 
it  and  joins  the  Mourne  near  Lifford.  The 
following  is  the  substance,  as  taken  down  from  the 
peasantry  by  O'Donovan  ;  but  there  is  another  and 
somewhat  different  version  in  "  The  Donegal 

174      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.      [PART  n. 

Highlands."  Finn  Mac  Cumhail  once  made  a 
great  feast  in  the  Finn  Valley,  and  sent  two  of  his 
heroes,  Gaul  and  Fergoman,  to  bring  him  a  fierce 
bull  .that  grazed  on  the  borders  of  the  lake.  On 
their  way  they  fell  in  with  a  litter  of  young  pigs, 
which  they  killed  and  left  there,  intending  to  call 
for  them  on  their  way  back,  and  bring  them  for 
the  feast ;  but  Finn  who  had  a  foreknowledge  of 
some  impending  evil,  ascended  a  hill,  and  with  a 
mighty  voice,  called  to  the  heroes  to  return  by  a 
different  route. 

They  returned  each  with  his  half  of  the  bull ; 
Gaul  obeyed  Finn's  injunction,  but  Fergoman, 
disregarding  it,  approached  the  spot  where  he  had 
left  the  litter,  and  saw  an  enormous  wild  sow,  the 
mother  of  the  brood,  standing  over  their  bodies. 
She  immediately  rushed  on  him  to  revenge  their 
death,  and  a  furious  fight  began,  the  sow  using 
her  tusks,  the  warrior  his  spear. 

Fergoman  had  a  sister  named  Finn,  who  was 
as  warlike  as  himself ;  and  after  long  fighting, 
when  he  was  lacerated  by  the  sow's  tusks  and  in 
danger  of  death,  he  raised  a  great  shout  for  his 
sister's  help.  She  happened  to  be  standing  at  the 
same  side  of  the  lake,  but  she  heard  the  echo  of 
the  shout  from  the  cliffs  on  the  opposite  side  ;  she 
immediately  plunged  in,  and  swam  across,  but  as 
she  reached  the  shore,  the  voice  came  from  the 
side  she  had  left,  and  when  she  returned,  the 
echo  came  resounding  again  from  the  opposite 
cliffs.  And  so  she  crossed  and  recrossed,  till  the 
dreadful  dying  shouts  of  Fergoman  so  over- 
whelmed her  with  grief  and  terror,  that  she  sank 
in  the  middle  of  the  lake  and  was  drowned.  Hence 
it  was  called  Loch  Finne,  the  lake  of  Finn,  and 
gave  also  its  name  to  the  river. 

The  place  where  the  heroes  killed  the  young 

CHAP,  iv.]  Legends.  175 

pigs,  and  where  Fergoman  met  his  fate,  is  still 
called  Meenanall,  in  Irish  Min-an-dil,  the  meen  or 
mountain  flat  of  the  litter ;  and  the  wild  sow  gave 
name  to  Lough  Muck,  the  lake  of  the  pig,  lying  a 
little  south  of  Lough  Finn. 

Whatever  may  be  thought  of  this  wild  legend, 
it  is  certain  that  the  lake  received  its  name  from 
a  woman  named  Finn,  for  it  is  always  called  iu 
Irish  Loch  Finn&,  which  bears  only  one  interpre- 
tation, Finn's  or  Finna's  lake ;  and  this  is  quite 
consistent  with  the  name  given  by  Adamnan  to 
the  river,  namely,  Finda.  The  suggestion  some- 
times put  forth,  that  the  name  was  derived  from 
the  word^ww,  white  or  clear,  is  altogether  out  of 
the  question  ;  for  the  waters  of  both,  so  far  from 
being  clear,  are  from  their  source  all  the  way 
down  to  Lifford,  particularly  remarkable  for  their 
inky  blackness. 

Among  the  many  traditions  handed  down  by 
the  Irish  people,  none  are  more  universal  than 
that  of  the  bursting  forth  of  lakes.  Almost  every 
considerable  lake  in  Ireland  has  its  own  story  of 
an  enchanted  well,  which  by  the  fatal  neglect  of 
some  fairy  injunction,  or  on  account  of  an  affront 
offered  to  its  guardian  spirit,  suddenly  overflowed 
the  valley,  and  overwhelmed  the  inhabitants  with 
their  cattle  and  their  houses  in  one  common  ruin. 

Nor  is  this  tradition  of  recent  origin,  for  we 
find  lake  eruptions  recorded  in  our  most  ancient 
annals  ;  and  nearly  all  the  principal  lakes  in  Ire- 
land are  accounted  for  in  this  manner.  There  is 
one  very  remarkable  example  of  an  occurrence  of 
this  kind — an  undoubted  fact — in  comparatively 
recent  times,  namely,  in  the  year  1490  ;  at  which 
year  the  Four  Masters  record : — "  There  was  a 
great  earthquake  (maidhm  talmhan,  an  eruption  of 
the  earth)  at  Sliabh  Gamh  (the  Ox  Mountains). 

176     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.      [PART  11. 

by  which  a  hundred  persons  were  destroyed, 
inong  whom  was  the  son  of  Manus  Crossagh 
O'Hara.  Many  horses  and  cows  were  also  killed 
by  it,  and  much  putrid  fish  was  thrown  up  ;  and 
a  lake  in  which  fish  is  [now]  caught  sprang  up  in 
the  place."  This  lake  is  now  dried  up,  but  it  has 
left  its  name  on  the  townland  of  Moymlough,  in 
Irish  Maidhm-loch,  the  erupted  lake,  in  the  parish 
of  Killoran,  county  of  Sligo ;  and  a  vivid  tradi- 
tion of  the  event  still  prevails  in  the  county 
(see  O'Donovan's  Four  Masters,  Vol.  IV.,  p. 

I  will  digress  here  for  a  moment  to  remark  that 
the  word  madhm  [maum  or  moym]  is  used  in  the 
western  counties  from  Mayo  to  Kerry,  and  espe- 
cially in  Connemara,  to  denote  an  elevated  moun- 
t*on  pass  or  chasm ;  in  which  application  the 
primary  sense  of  breaking  or  bursting  asunder  is 
maintained.  This  is  the  origin  of  the  several 
places  called  Maum  in  these  counties,  some  of  which 
are  well  known  to  tourists — such  as  Maum 
Hotel ;  Maumturk,  the  pass  of  the  boars ;  Mauma- 
keogh,  the  pass  of  the  mist,  &c.  In  Mayo  we 
find  Maumnaman,  the  pass  of  the  women;  in 
Kerry  Maumnahaltora,  of  the  altar ;  and  in  Fer- 
managh Mullanvaum,  the  summit  of  the  elevated 

The  origin  of  Lough  Erne  in  Fermanagh,  is 
pretty  fully  stated  in  the  Annals  of  the  Four 
Masters ;  and  it  is  also  given  in  the  Book  of 
Invasions,  and  in  O'Flaherty's  Ogygia.  Fiacha 
Labhruinne  [Feeha  Lavrinna]  was  king  of  Ire- 
land from  A.  M.  3727  to  3751 ;  and  it  is  related  that 
he  gained  several  battles  during  his  reign,  in  one 
of  which  he  defeated  the  Ernai,  a  tribe  of  Fir- 
bolgs,  who  dwelt  on  the  plain  now  covered  by  the 
lake.  "After  the  battle  was  gained  from  them, 

CHAP,  iv.]  Legends.  177 

the  lake  flowed  over  them,  so  that  it  was  from 
them  the  lake  is  named  [Loch  Eirne~\,  that  is  a 
lake  over  the  Ernai." 

Our  most  ancient  records  point  to  the  eruption 
of  Lough  Neagh  as  having  occurred  in  the  end  of 
the  first  century.  From  the  universality  of  the 
tradition,  as  well  as  its  great  antiquity,  it  seems 
highly  probable  that  some  great  inundation  actu- 
ally occurred  about  the  time  mentioned.  Giraldus, 
who  evidently  borrowed  the  story  from  the  native 
writers,  relates  that  it  was  formed  by  the  over- 
flowing of  a  fairy  fountain,  which  had  been 
accidentally  left  uncovered ;  and  mentions  what 
the  people  will  tell  you  to  this  day,  that  the 
fishermen  sometimes  see  the  lofty  and  slender 
ecclesiastic®  turres,  or  round  towers,  beneath  its 
waters — a  belief  which  Moore  has  embalmed  in 
the  well-known  lines  : — 

"  On  Lough  Neagh's  banks  as  the  fisherman  strays, 

When  the  clear  cold  eve's  declining, 

He  sees  the  round  towers  of  other  days 

In  the  wave  beneath  him  shining." 

The  ancient  name  of  the  territory  now  covered 
by  the  lake,  was  Liathmhuine  [Leafony:  grey 
shrubbery],  and  it  was  taken  possession  of  by  a 
Munster  chieftain  named  Eochy  Mac  Maireda, 
after  he  had  expelled  the  previous  inhabitants. 
He  occupied  the  plain  at  the  time  of  the  eruption, 
and  he  and  all  his  family  were  drowned,  except 
one  daughter  and  two  sons.  Hence  the  lake  was 
called  Loch-nEchach  [Lough  Neagh],  i.  e.  Eochy's 
lake,  which  is  its  name  in  all  our  ancient  writings, 
and  of  which  the  present  name  has  preserved  the 
sound,  a  little  shortened.  The  N  which  now 
forms  the  first  letter  does  not  belong  to  the  word ; 
it  is  what  is  sometimes  called  the  prosthetic  n, 
VOL.  i.  13 

178      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

and  is  a  mere  grammatical  accident.  The  name 
often  occurs  without  it ;  for  instance,  in  the  Book  of 
Leinster  it  is  given  both  ways — Loch-nEthach, 
and  Loch-Echach ;  and  we  find  it  spelled  Lough 
Eaugh  in  Camden,  as  well  as  in  many  of  the  mapa 
of  the  16th  and  17th  centuries. 

This  eruption  is  mentioned  in  an  ancient  poem, 
published  by  Dr.  Todd  (Irish  Nennius,  p  267) 
from  the  Book  of  Leinster ;  and  from  this  also  it 
appears  that  Linnmhuine  [Linwinny],  the  linn  or 
lake  of  the  shrubbery,  in  allusion  to  the  old  name 
of  the  territory,  was  another  name  for  the  lake : — 

"  Eochy  Maireda,  the  rebellious  son, 

Of  wonderful  adventure, 
Who  was  overwhelmed  in  lucid  Linnmhuine, 
With  the  clear  lake  over  him." 

Eochy's  daughter,  Liban,  is  the  subject  of  an 
exceedingly  wild  legend,  for  which  see  Joyce's 
"  Old  Celtic  Romances,"  p.  97. 



IT  is  very  probable  that  the  belief  in  the  exist- 
ence of  fairies,  so  characteristic  of  the  Celtic  race 
of  these  countries,  came  in  with  the  earliest  colo- 
nies. On  this  question,  however,  I  do  not  intend 
to  enter :  it  is  sufficient  to  observe  here  that  the 
belief,  in  all  its  reality,  is  recorded  in  the  oldest  of 
our  native  writings,  and  that  with  a  distinctness 
and  circumstantiality  that  prove  it  to  have  been, 
at  the  time  of  which  they  treat,  long  established 
and  universallv  received. 

CHAP,  v.]  Fairies,  Demons,  Goblins,  and  Ghosts.  179 

It  was  believed  that  these  supernatural  beings 
dwelt  in  habitations  in  the  interior  of  pleasant 
hills,  which  were  called  by  the  name  of  sidh  or 
sith  [shee].  Colgan's  explanation  of  this  term  is 
so  exact,  and  he  gives  such  an  admirable  epitome 
of  the  superstition  respecting  the  sidh  and  its 
inhabitants,  that  I  will  here  translate  his  words  : — 
"  Fantastical  spirits  are  by  the  Irish  called  men 
of  the  sidh,  because  they  are  seen  as  it  were  to 
come  out  of  beautiful  hills  to  infest  men ;  and 
hence  the  vulgar  belief  that  they  reside  in  certain 
subterraneous  habitations  within  these  hills ;  and 
these  habitations,  and  sometimes  the  hills  them- 
selves, are  called  by  the  Irish  sidhe  or  siodha" 

In  Colgan's  time  the  fairy  superstition  had  de- 
scended to  the  common  people — the  vulgus;  for 
the  spread  of  the  Faith,  and  the  influence  of 
education,  had  disenthralled  the  minds  of  the  better 
classes.  But  in  the  fifth  century,  the  existence  of 
the  DuinS  sidhe  [dinna-shee ;  people  of  the  fairy 
mansions],  was  an  article  of  belief  with  the  high 
as  well  as  with  the  low ;  as  may  be  inferred  from 
the  following  curious  passage  in  the  Book  of 
Armagh,  where  we  find  the  two  daughters  of 
Laeghaire  [Leary],  king  of  Ireland,  participating 
in  this  superstition : — "  Then  St.  Patrick  came  to 
the  well  which  is  called  Clebach,  on  the  side  of 
Cruachan  towards  the  east;  and  before  sunrise 
they  (Patrick  and  his  companions)  sat  down  near 
the  well.  And  lo!  the  two  daughters  of  king 
Laeghaire,  Ethnea  the  fair  and  Fedelma  the  ruddy, 
came  early  to  the  well  to  wash,  after  the  manner 
of  women ;  and  they  found  near  the  well  a  synod 
of  holy  bishops  with  Patrick.  And  they  knew 
not  whence  they  came,  or  in  what  form,  or  from 
what  people,  or  from  what  country:  but  they 
supposed  them  to  be  DuinS  sidhe,  or  gods  of  the 

180      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

earth,  or  a  phantasm"  (Todd's  Life  of  St  Patrick, 
p.  452).  Dr.  Todd  adds  in  a  note : — "Duing  sidhe, 
the  men  of  the  sidhe,  or  phantoms,  the  name  given 
by  the  Irish  to  the  fairies — men  of  the  hills  ;  the 
word  sidlw  or  siodha  signifies  the  habitations  sup- 
posed to  belong  to  these  aerial  beings,  in  the  hollows 
of  the  hills  and  mountains.  It  is  doubtful  whether 
the  word  is  cognate  with  the  Lat.  sedes,  or  from 
a  Celtic  root,  side,  a  blast  of  wind." 

The  belief  of  king  Laeghaire's  daughters  re- 
garding these  aerial  beings,  as  related  in  a  MS. 
copied  in  the  year  807,  is  precisely  the  same  as  it 
was  in  the  time  of  Colgan,  and  the  superstition 
has  descended  to  our  own  time  in  all  its  integrity. 
Its  limits  are  indeed  further  circumscribed ;  but 
at  the  present  day  the  peasantry  in  remote  dis- 
tricts believe  that  the  fairies  inhabit  the  sidhe,  01 
hills,  and  that  occasionally  mortals  are  favoured 
with  a  view  of  their  magnificent  palaces. 

To  readers  of  modern  fairy  lore,  the  banshee  ia 
a  well-known  spirit : — Irish  bean-sidhe,  woman  of 
the  fairy  mansions.  Many  of  the  old  Milesian 
families  are  attended  by  a  banshee,  who  foretells 
and  laments  the  approaching  death  of  a  member 
of  the  favoured  race  by  keening  round  the  house  in 
the  lonely  night.  Numberless  banshee  stories  are 
related  with  great  circumstantiality,  by  the  pea- 
santry all  over  Ireland,  several  of  which  are 
preserved  in  Crofton  Croker's  fairy  legends. 

In  our  old  authorities  it  is  very  often  stated 
that  the  fairies  are  the  Dedannans ;  and  the 
chiefs  of  this  race — such  as  the  Dagda,  Bove 
Derg,  &c. — are  frequently  referred  to  as  the  archi- 
tects and  inhabitants  of  the  sidhe.  For  example, 
in  a  copy  of  the  "History  of  the  Cemeteries'' 
contained  in  the  MS.  H.  3.  17,  T.C.D.,  the  fol- 
lowing statement  occurs  relating  to  the  death  oJ 

CHAP:  v.]  Fairies,  t)emons,  Goblins,  and  Ghosts.  181 

Cormac  mac  Art : — "  Or  it  was  the  siabhra  [shee- 
vra]  that  killed  him,  i.  e.  the  Tuatha  de  Dananns, 
for  they  were  called  siabhras."  In  some  cases, 
however,  the  sidhe  were  named  after  the  chiefs  of 
the  Milesian  colony,  as  in  case  of  Sidh-Aedha 
at  Bally  shannon  (see  page  183) ;  but  at  present 
the  Dedannan  origin  of  these  aerial  beings 
seems  to  be  quite  forgotten ;  for  almost  all  raths, 
cashels  and  mounds — the  dwellings,  forts,  and 
sepulchres  of  the  Firbolgs  and  Milesians,  as  well 
as  those  of  the  Dedannans — are  considered  as 
fairy  haunts, 

Of  this  ancient  Dedannan  people  our  know- 
ledge is  very  scant  indeed ;  but,  judging  from 
many  very  old  tales  and  references  in  our  MSS., 
and  from  the  works  supposed  to  be  executed 
by  this  race,  of  which  numerous  remains  still 
exist — sepulchral  mounds,  gracefully  formed  spear- 
heads, &c. — we  may  conclude  that  they  were  a 
people  of  superior  intelligence  and  artistic  skill, 
and  that  they  were  conquered  and  driven  into 
remote  districts,  by  the  less  intelligent  but  more 
warlike  Milesian  tribes  who  succeeded  them.  Their 
knowledge  and  skill  procured  for  them  the  repu- 
tation of  magicians;  and  the  obscure  manner  in 
which  they  were  forced  to  live  after  their  subju- 
gation, in  retired  and  lonely  places,  gradually 
impressed  the  vulgar  with  the  belief  that  they  were 
supernatural  beings. 

It  is  not  probable  that  the  subjugation  of  the 
Dedannans,  with  the  subsequent  belief  regarding 
them,  was  the  origin  of  Irish  fairy  mytholgy. 
The  superstition,  no  doubt,  existed  long  previously; 
and  this  mysterious  race,  having  undergone  a 
gradual  deification,  became  confounded  and  identi- 
fied with  the  original  local  gods,  and  ultimately 
superseded  them  altogether. 

182      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

The  most  ancient  and  detailed  account  of  their 
final  dispersion  is  found  in  the  Book  of  Fermoy, 
a  MS.  of  the  year  1463 ;  where  it  is  related 
in  the  tale  of  Curchog,  daughter  of  Manannan 
Mac  Lir  that  the  Dedannans,  after  the  two  dis- 
astrous battles  of  Tailtenn  and  Druim  Lighean, 
held  a  meeting  at  Bruga  on  the  Boyne,  under  the 
presidency  of  Manannan  ;  and  by  his  advice  they 
distributed  and  quartered  themselves  on  the  plea- 
sant hills  and  plains  of  Erin.  Bodhbh  [Bove] 
Derg,  son  of  the  Dagda,  was  chosen  king;  and 
Manannan,  their  chief  counsellor,  arranged  the  dif- 
ferent places  of  abode  for  the  nobles  among  the 

Several  of  the  sidhs  mentioned  in  this  narrative 
are  known,  and  some  of  them  are  still  celebrated 
as  fairy  haunts.  Sidh  Buidhbh  [Boov],  with  Bove 
Derg  for  its  chief,  was  on  the  shore  of  Lough 
Derg,  somewhere  near  Portumna.  Several  hills 
in  Ireland,  noted  fairy  haunts,  took  their  names 
from  this  chief,  and  others  from  his  daughter, 
Bugh  [Boo].  One  of  the  former  is  Knockavoe 
near  Strabane.  The  Four  Masters  mention  it  at 
A.D.  1522,  as  "  Cnoc-Buidhbh,  commonly  called 
Cnoc-an-Bhogha ; "  which  shows  that  the  former 
was  the  correct  old  name,  and  that  it  had  been 
corrupted  in  their  time  to  Cnoc-an-Bhogha,  which 
is  its  present  Irish  name,  and  which  is  represented 
in  sound  by  the  anglicised  form,  Knockavoe.  They 
mention  it  again  at  1557  ;  and  here  they  give  it 
the  full  name  Cnoc-Buidhbh-Derg,  Bove-Derg'shill. 
It  was  probably  the  same  old  chief  who  left  his 
name  on  Raf  wee  in  the  parish  of  Killeany  in  Gal- 
way  ;  which  in  an  ancient  authority  quoted  by 
Hardiman  (lar  C.  370),  is  called  Rath-Buidhbh, 
B^ve's  fort.  From  his  daughter  is  named  Canbo, 
in  the  parish  of  Killummod,  Roscommon,  which 

CHAP,  v.]  Fairies,  Demons,  Goblins,  and  Ghosts.   ±83 

Duald  Mac  Firbis  writes  Ceann-Bugha,  i.  e.  Bugh's 
head  or  hill. 

Sidh  Truim,  under  the  guardianship  of  Midir, 
was  situated  a  little  to  the  east  of  Slane,  on 
the  Boyne,  but  its  name  and  legend  are  now 
forgotten.  Sidh  Neannta,  under  Sidhmall,  is  now 
called  Mullaghshee  or  Fairymount,  and  is  situated 
in  the  parish  of  Kilgeffin,  near  Lanesborough,  in 
the  county  Roscommon.  Sidh  Meadha  [Ma],  ovei 
which  presided  Finnbharr  [Finvar],  is  the  well- 
known  mountain  now  called  Knockma,  five  miles 
south  west  of  Tuam ;  the  tradition  respecting  it  is 
still  preserved  in  all  its  vividness ;  and  the  exploits 
of  Finvara,  its  guardian  fairy,  are  celebrated  all 
over  Ireland. 

Sidh  Aedha  Ruaidh,  another  of  these  celebrated 
fairy  resorts  is  the  hill  now  called  Mullaghshee, 
on  which  the  modern  church  is  built,  at  Bally- 
shannon  in  Donegal.  The  Book  of  Leinster  and 
other  ancient  authorities  relate  that  Aedh-Ruadh 
[Ay-roo],the  father  of  Macha,  founder  of  Emania 
(see  p.  89),  was  drowned  in  the  cataract  at  Bally- 
shannon,  which  was  thence  called  after  him, 
Eas-Ruaidh,  or  Eas- Aedha- Ruaidh  [Assroo,  Assay- 
roo],  Aedh  Ruadh's  waterfall,  now  shortened 
to  Assaroe.  He  was  buried  over  the  cataract,  in 
the  mound  which  was  called  from  him  Sidh 
Aedha — a  name  still  partly  preserved  in  Mullagh 
shee,  the  hill  of  the  sidh  or  fairy  palace. 

This  hill  has  recently  been  found  to  contain  sub- 
terranean chambers,  which  confirms  our  ancient 
legendary  accounts,  and  shows  that  it  is  a  greai 
sepulchral  mound  like  those  on  the  Boyne.  How 
few  of  the  people  of  Ballyshannon  know  that  the 
familiar  name  Mullaghshee  is  a  living  memoria 
of  those  dim  ages  when  Aedh  Ruadh  held  sway, 
and  that  the  great  king  himself  has  slept  here  in 

184     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

his  dome-roofed  dwelling  for  more  than  two  thou- 
sand years ! 

These  are  a  few  illustrations  of  the  extent  to 
which  tho  fairy  mythology  was  accepted  in  Ire- 
land in  remote  ages  But,  even  if  history  were 
wholly  silent  regarding  the  former  prevalence  of 
this  belief,  it  would  be  sufficiently  attested  by  the 
great  numbers  of  places,  scattered  all  over  the 
country,  whose  names  contain  the  word  sidh,  or, 
as  it  is  usually  modernised,  shee.  It  must  be  borne 
in  mind  that  every  one  of  these  places  was  once 
firmly  believed  to  be  a  fairy  mansion,  inhabited  by 
those  mysterious  beings,  and  that  in  case  of  many 
of  them,  the  same  superstition  lurks  at  this  day  in 
the  minds  of  the  peasantry. 

Sidh,  as  we  have  seen,  was  originally  applied  to 
a  fairy  palace,  and  it  was  afterwards  gradually 
transferred  to  the  hill,  and  ultimately  to  the  fairies 
themselves ;  but  this  last  transition  must  have 
begun  at  a  very  early  period,  for  we  find  it  ex- 
pressly stated  in  a  passage  in  the  Leabhar-na- 
hTJidhre,  that  the  ignorant  called  the  fairies  side. 
At  the  present  day,  the  word  generally  signifies  a 
fairy,  but  the  diminutive  sidheog  [sheeoge]  is  more 
commonly  employed.  When  sidh  forms  part  of  a 
name,  it  is  often  not  easy  to  determine  whether 
it  means  the  fairies  themselves  or  their  habitations. 

Shee  and  its  modifications  constitute  or  begin 
the  names  of  about  seventy  townlands,  which  are 
pretty  equally  distributed  over  the  four  provinces, 
very  few  being  found,  however,  in  the  counties  of 
Louth,  Dublin,  and  Wicklow.  Besides  these, 
there  are  many  more  places  whose  names  contain 
this  word  in  the  middle  or  end  ;  and  there  are  in- 
numerable fairy  hills  and  forts  through  the 
country,  designated  by  the  word  shee,  which  have 
not  communicated  their  names  to  townlands. 

CHAP,  v.]  Fairies,  Demons,  Goblins,  and  Ghosts.  185 

Sidh-dhruim  [Sheerim],  fairy  ridge — the  old 
name  of  the  Rock  of  Cashel  and  of  several  other 
ancient  fairy  haunts — is  still  the  name  of  six 
townlands  in  Armagh  under  the  modern  form 
Sheetrim  ;  the  change  from  d  to  t  (in  druim)  must 
have  begun  a  long  time  ago,  for  Sidh-druim  is 
written  Sith-truim  in  Torna  Eigas's  poem  ("  Hy 
Fiachrach,"  p.  29) :  Sheerevagh,  in  Roscommon 
and  Sligo,  grey  shee ;  Sheegorey  near  Boyle,  the 
fairy  hill  of  Guaire  or  Gorey,  a  man's  name. 
There  is  a  townland  in  the  parish  of  Corbally, 
Tipperary,  called  the  Sheehys,  or  in  Irish  Na 
sithe  [na  sheeha],  i.  e.  the  fairy  mounts ;  and  a  range 
of  low  heights  south  of  Trim  in  Meath,  is  well 
known  by  the  name  of  the  Shee  hills,  i.  e.  the  f  airy 

There  is  a  famous  fairy  palace  on  the  eastern 
shoulder  of  Slievenaman  mountain  in  Tipperary. 
According  to  a  metrical  romance  contained  in  the 
Book  of  Lismore  and  other  authorities,  the  De- 
dannan  women  of  this  sidh  enchanted  Finn  mac 
Cumhail  and  his  Fianna  ;  and  from  these  women 
the  mountain  took  its  name.  It  is  now  called  in 
Irish,  Sliabh-na-mban-fionn,  which  would  signify 
the  mountain  of  the  fair-haired  women ;  but 
O'Donovan  shows  that  the  true  name  is  Slidbh-na- 
mban-Feimhinn  [Slievenamon  Fevin],  the  moun- 
tain of  the  women  of  Feimhenn,  which  was  an 
ancient  territory  coextensive  with  the  barony  of 
Iffa  and  Offa  East ;  and  this  was  shortened  to  the 
present  name,  Sliabh-na-mban,  or  Slievenaman. 

The  word  occurs  still  more  frequently  in  the 
end  of  names  ;  and  in  this  case  it  may  be  generally 
taken  to  be  of  greater  antiquity  than  the  part  of 
the  name  that  precedes  it.  There  is  a  parish  in 
Longford  called  Killashee,  which  was  probably  so 
called  because  the  church  was  built  near  or  on  the 

186     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.      [PART  n. 

site  of  one  of  these  mounts.  Killashee  in  Kildare, 
has  however  a  different  origin.  Cloonshee  near 
Elphin  in  the  county  Roscommon,  is  called  by  the 
Four  Masters  Cluain-sithe,  fairy  meadow ;  and 
there  are  several  other  places  of  the  same  name. 
Rashee  in  Antrim,  where  St.  Patrick  is  recorded 
to  have  founded  a  church,  is  in  Irish  Rath-sithe 
/Four  Masters),  the  fort  of  the  fairies;  and  the 
good  people  must  have  often  appeared,  at  some 
former  period,  to  the  inhabitants  of  those  places 
now  called  Ballynashee  and  Ballynasheeoge,  the 
town  of  the  fairies. 

The  word  sidh  undergoes  several  local  modifica- 
tions ;  for  example,  Knocknasheega  near  Cappoquin 
in  Waterford,  is  called  in  Irish  Cnoc-na-sige,  the 
hill  of  the  fairies ;  and  the  name  of  Cheek  Point 
on  the  Suir  below  Waterford,  is  merely  an  adap- 
tation from  Sheega  point;  for  the  Irish  name  is 
P6inte-na-sige  [Pointa-na-sheega],  the  point  of  the 
fairies.  The  townland  of  Sheegys  (i.  e.  fairy  hills) 
in  the  parish  of  Kilbarron,  Donegal,  was  once  no 
doubt  a  favourite  resort  of  fairies ;  and  on  its 
southern  boundary,  near  high-water  mark,  there 
is  a  mound  called  Mulnasheefrog,  the  hill  of  the 
fairy  dwellings.  In  the  parish  of  Aghanagh, 
Sligo,  there  are  two  townlands,  called  Cuilshee- 
ghary,  which  the  people  call  in  Irish,  Coittsioth- 
chaire,  the  fairies'  wood,  for  a  large  wood  formerly 
stood  there. 

While  sidheog  means  a  fairy,  the  other  diminu- 
tive sidhedn  [sheeawn]  is  always  applied  to  a  fairy 
mount.  The  word  is  used  in  this  sense  all  over 
Ireland,  but  it  is  particularly  common  in  Con- 
naught,  where  these  sheeauns  are  met  with  in  great 
numbers ;  they  are  generally  beautiful  green  round 
hillocks,  with  an  old  fort  on  the  summit.  Their 
numbers  would  lead  one  to  believe  that  in  old 

CHAP,  v.]  Fairies,  Demons,  Goblins,  and  Ghosts.  187 

times,  some  parts  of  Connaught  must  have  been 
more  thickly  peopled  with  fairies  than  with  men. 

Great  numbers  of  places  have  taken  their  names 
from  these  haunted  hills ;  and  the  word  assumes 
various  forms,  such  as  Sheaun,  Sheehaun,  Sheean, 
and  Shean,  which  give  names  to  about  thirty 
townlands  scattered  through  the  four  provinces. 
It  is  not  unfrequently  changed  to  Sion,  as  in  the 
parish  of  Laraghbryan  in  Kildare,  where  the  place 
now  so  called  evidently  took  its  name  from  a 
sheeaun,  for  it  is  written  Shiane  in  an  Inquisition 
of  James  I. ;  and  there  are  several  other  instances 
of  this  odd  corruption.  Near  Ballybay  in  Mona- 
ghan,  is  a  place  called  Shane,  another  form  of  the 
word ;  and  the  plural  Shanes,  fairy  hills,  occurs 
in  the  parish  of  Loughguile,  Antrim.  Sheena  in 
Leitrim,  Sheeny  in  Meath  and  Fermanagh,  and 
Sheeana  in  Wicklow,  are  different  forms  of  the 
Irish  plural  sidhne  [sheena],  fairy  hills. 

The  sound  of  the  s  is  often  eclipsed  by  t  (p. 
23),  and  this  gives  rise  to  further  modifications. 
There  is  a  castle  called  Ballinteean  giving  name 
to  a  townland  in  the  parish  of  Ballysakeery, 
Mayo,  which  is  written  by  Mac  Firbis,  Baile-an- 
tsiodhain,  the  town  of  the  fairy  hill;  the  same 
name  occurs  near  Ballinrobe  in  the  same  county 
and  in  the  parish  of  Kilglass,  Sligo :  in  Down 
and  Kildare  it  takes  the  form  of  Ballintine  ;  and 
that  this  last  name  is  derived  from  sidhean  is 
shown  by  the  fact  that  Ballintine  near  Blaris  in 
Down  is  written  Shiane  in  an  Inquisition  of  James 
I.  Aghintain  near  Clogher  in  Tyrone,  would  be 
written  in  the  original,  Achadh-an-tsiadhain 
[Aghanteean],  the  field  of  the  fairy  mount. 

Most  of  the  different  kinds  of  fairies,  so  well 
known  at  the  present  day  to  those  acquainted  with 
the  Irish  peasantry,  have  also  been  commemorated 

188      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.    [PART  n. 

in  local  names.  A  few  of  those  I  will  here  briefly 
mention,  but  the  subject  deserves  more  space  than 
I  can  afford.* 

The  Pooka — Irish  puca — is  an  odd  mixture  of 
merriment  and  malignity ;  his  exploits  form  the 
subject  of  innumerable  legendary  narratives ;  and 
every  literary  tourist  who  visits  our  island,  seems 
to  consider  it  a  duty  to  record  some  new  story  of 
this  capricious  goblin.  Under  the  name  of  Puck, 
he  will  be  recognised  as  the  "  merry  wanderer  of 
the  night,"  who  boasts  that  he  can  "  put  a  girdle 
round  about  the  earth  in  forty  minutes ;  "  and  the 
genius  of  Shakspeare  has  conferred  on  him  a  kind 
of  immortality  he  never  expected. 

There  are  many  places  all  over  Ireland  where 
the  Pooka  is  still  well  remembered,  and  where, 
though  he  has  himself  forsaken  his  haunts,  he 
has  left  his  name  to  attest  his  former  reign  of 
terror.  One  of  the  best  known  is  Pollaphuca  in 
Wicklow,  a  wild  chasm  where  the  Liffey  falls 
over  a  ledge  of  rocks  into  a  deep  pool,  to  which 
the  name  properly  belongs,  signifying  the  pool  or 
hole  of  the  Pooka.  There  are  three  townlands  in 
Clare,  and  several  other  places  in  different  parts 
of  the  country,  with  the  same  name;  they  are 
generally  wild  lonely  dells,  caves,  chasms  in  rocks 
on  the  seashore,  or  pools  in  deep  glens  like  that 
in  Wicklow — all  places  of  a  lonely  character, 
suitable  haunts  for  this  mysterious  sprite.  The 
original  name  of  Puckstown  in  the  parish  of 
Mosstown  in  Louth,  and  probably  of  Puckstown, 
near  Artaine  in  Dublin,  was  Pollaphuca,  of  which 
the  present  name  is  an  incorrect  translation. 
Boheraphuca  (boher,  a  road)  four  miles  north  of 
Roscrea  in  Tipperary,  must  have  been  a  dangerous 

*  See  Crofton  Croker's  "  Irish  Fairy  Legends,"  and  Wilde'a 
"  Irish  Popular  Superstitions." 

CHAP.  v.~|  Fairies,  Demons,  Goblins,  and  Ghosts.  189 

place  to  pass  at  night,  in  days  of  old.  Carriga- 
phooca  (the  Pooka's  rock)  two  miles  west  of 
Macroom,  where  on  the  top  of  a  rock  overhanging 
the  Sullane,  stand  the  ruins  of  the  Mac  Carthy's 
castle,  is  well  known  as  the  place  whence  Daniel 
O'Rourke  began  his  adventurous  voyage  to  the 
moon  on  the  back  of  an  eagle ;  and  here  for  many 
a  generation  the  Pooka  held  his  "  ancient  solitary 
reign,"  and  played  pranks  which  the  peasantry 
will  relate  with  minute  detail. 

About  half  way  between  Kilfinane  in  Limerick, 
and  Mitchelstown  in  Cork,  the  bridge  of  Aha- 
phuca  crosses  the  Ounageeragh  river  at  the  junc- 
tion of  its  two  chief  branches,  and  on  the  boundary 
of  the  two  counties.  Before  the  erection  of  the 
bridge,  this  was  a  place  of  evil  repute,  and  not 
without  good  reason,  for  on  stormy  winter  nights, 
many  a  traveller  was  swept  off  by  the  flood  in 
attempting  to  cross  the  dangerous  ford;  these 
fatalities  were  all  attributed  to  the  malice  of  the 
goblin  that  haunted  the  place ;  and  the  name — 
the  Pooka's  ford — still  reminds  us  of  his  deeds  of 

He  is  often  found  lurking  in  raths  and  lisses ; 
and  accordingly  there  are  many  old  forts  through 
the  country  called  Lissaphuca  and  Rathpooka, 
which  have,  in  some  cases,  given  names  to  town- 
lands.  In  the  parish  of  Kilcolman  in  Kerry,  are 
two  townlands  called  Rathpoge  on  the  Ordnance 
map,  and  Rathpooke  in  other  authorities — 
evidently  Rathpuca,  the  Pooka's  rath.  Sometimes 
his  name  is  shortened  to  pook  or  puck ;  as,  for 
instance,  in  Castlepook,  the  goblin's  castle,  a  black, 
square,  stern-looking  old  tower,  near  Doneraile  in 
Cork,  in  a  dreary  spot  at  the  foot  of  the  Bally  - 
houra  hills,  as  fit  a  place  for  a  pooka  as  could  be 
conceived.  This  form  is  also  found  in  the  name 

190     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.      [PART  n. 

of  the  great  moat  of  Cloghpook  in  Queen's 
County  (written  Cloyth-an-puka  in  a  rental  book 
of  the  Earl  of  Kildare,  A.  D.  1518),  the  stone  or 
stone  fortress  of  the  pooka ;  and  according  to 
O'Donovan,  the  name  of  Ploopluck  near  Naas  in 
Kildare,  is  a  corruption — a  very  vile  one  indeed — 
of  the  same  name. 

The  word  siabhra  [sheevra]  is  now  very  fre- 
quently employed  to  denote  a  fairy,  and  we  have 
found  it  used  in  this  sense  in  the  quotation  at 
page  181  from  the  "History  of  the  Cemeteries." 
This  term  appears  in  the  names  of  several  places  : 
there  is,  for  example,  a  townland  called  Drum- 
sheaver,  in  the  parish  of  Tedavnet,  Monaghan, 
but  which  is  "written  in  several  modern  authorities, 
Drumshevery,  the  ridge  of  the  sheevras ;  and  they 
must  have  also  haunted  Glennasheevar,  in  the 
parish  of  Inishmacsaint  in  Fermanagh. 

Nor  is  the  leprechaun  forgotten — the  merry 
sprite  "  Whom  maids  at  night,  Oft  meet  in  glen 
that's  haunted,"  who  will  give  you  the  spardn 
scillingS,  an  inexhaustible  fairy  purse,  if  you  can 
only  manage  to  hold  him  spell-bound  by  an  un- 
interrupted gaze.  This  lively  little  fellow  is 
known  by  several  different  names,  such  as  lupra- 
chaun,  luricane,  lurrigadane,  cluricane,  luppercadane, 
loughryman,  &c.  The  correct  original  designation 
from  which  all  these  have  been  corrupted,  is 
luchorpan,  or  as  we  find  it  in  the  MS.  H.  2,  16 
(col.  120),  lucharban ;  from  lu,  "  everything  small" 
(Cor.  Gl.,  voce  "luda"  ),  and  corpdn,  a  diminutive 
of  corp,  a  body,  Lat.  corpus;  so  that  luchorpan 
signifies  "  an  extremely  little  body  "  (see  Stokes' s 
Cor.  Gl.  p.  1).  There  is  a  good  sized  lake  in 
Donegal,  four  miles  west  of  Ardara,  called  Lough 
Nalughraman,  the  lake  of  the  loughrymam  :  but 
here  the  people  say  the  loughryman  is  a  kind  of 

CHAP.  v.J  Fames,  Demons,  Goblins,  and  Ghosts.    191 

In  the  townland  of  Creevagh,  near  Cong  in 
Mayo,  there  is  a  cave  called  Mullenlupraghaun, 
the  leprechauns'  mill,  "  where  in  former  times  the 
people  left  their  caskeens  of  corn  at  nightfall,  and 
found  them  full  of  meal  in  the  morning  "  (Wilde's 
Lough  Corrib) — ground  by  the  leprechauns.  And 
it  is  certain  that  they  must  have  long  chosen,  as 
favourite  haunts,  Knocknalooricaun  (the  hill  of 
the  looricauns),  near  Lismore  in  Waterford,  and 
Poulaluppercadaun  (poul,  a  hole),  near  Killorglin 
in  Kerry. 

Every  one  knows  that  fairies  are  a  merry  race 
and  that  they  enjoy  immensely  their  midnight 
gambols ;  moreover,  it  would  seem  that  they  in- 
dulge in  many  of  the  ordinary  peasant  pastimes. 
The  fairy  fort  of  Lisfarbegnagommaun  stands  in 
the  townland  of  Knocknagraigue  East,  four  miles 
from  Corrofin  in  Clare ;  and  whoever  cautiously 
approaches  it  on  a  calm  moonlight  night,  wiU 
probably  see  a  spectacle  worth  remembering — the 
little  inhabitants,  in  all  their  glory,  playing  at  the 
game  of  coman,  or  hurley.  Their  favourite 
amusement  is  told  clearly  enough  in  the  name 
Lios-fear-beg-na-gcomdn,  the  fort  of  the  little  men 
of  the  hurlets,  that  is,  of  the  little  hurlers  (see 
Aughnagomaun).  Sam  Lover  must  have  been 
well  acquainted  with  their  pastimes  when  he  wrote 
his  pretty  song,  "  The  fairies  are  dancing  by  brake 
and  by  bower  ; ''  and  indeed  he  probably  saw  them 
himself,  "  lightly  tripping  o'er  the  green,"  in 
one  of  the  many  forts,  where  they  indulge  in 
their  nightly  revelry,  and  which  are  still  called 
Lissarinka,  the  fort  of  the  dancing  (see  Skeheena- 

Readers  of  Crofton  Croker  will  recollect  the 
story  of  the  rath  of  Knockgraffon,  and  how  the 
little  man,  Lusmore,  sitting  down  to  rest  himself 

192    Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

near  the  fort,  heard  a  strain  of  wild  music  from 
the  inside.  Knockgraffon  is  not  the  only  "  airy  " 
place  where  the  cedlsidhe,  or  fairy  music,  is  heard  : 
in  fact  this  is  a  very  common  way  of  manifesting 
their  presence  ;  and  accordingly  certain  raths  in 
the  south  of  Ireland  are  known  by  the  name  of 
Lissakeole,  the  fort  of  the  music  (ceol).  Neilson 
(Irish  Gram.,  page  55)  mentions  a  hill  in  the 
county  of  Down,  called  Knocknafeadalea,  whist- 
ling hill,  from  the  music  of  the  fairies  which  was 
often  heard  to  proceed  from  it ;  and  the  townland 
of  Lisnafeddaly  in  Monaghan,  and  Lisnafeedy  in 
Armagh,  both  took  their  names  (signifying  the 
fort  of  the  whistling  :  fead  or  fid,  a  whistle)  from 
lisses,  with  the  same  reputation. 

The  life  of  a  fairy  is  not,  however,  all  merri- 
ment. Sometimes  the  little  people  of  two  neigh- 
bouring forts  quarrel,  and  fight  sanguinary  battles. 
These  encounters  always  take  place  by  night ;  the 
human  inhabitants  are  terrified  by  shrill  screams 
and  other  indescribable  noises ;  and  in  the  morn- 
ing the  fields  are  strewn  with  drops  of  blood, 
little  bones,  and  other  relics  of  the  fight.  Certain 
forts  in  some  of  the  northern  counties,  whose  in- 
habitants were  often  engaged  in  warfare,  have, 
from  these  conflicts,  got  the  name  of  Lisnascragh, 
the  fort  of  the  screeching  (screach}. 

Very  often  when  you  pass  a  lonely  fort  on  a 
dark  night,  you  will  be  astonished  to  see  a  light 
shining  from  it ;  the  fairies  are  then  at  some  work 
of  their  own,  and  you  will  do  well  to  pass  on  and 
not  disturb  them.  From  the  frequency  of  this 
apparition,  it  has  come  to  pass  that  many  forts 
are  called  Lisnagannell  and  Lisnagunnell,  the  fort 
of  the  candles ;  and  in  some  instances  they  have 
given  names  to  townlands,  as,  for  example,  Lisna- 
gonnell  in  the  county  Down;  Lisnageenly  in 

CHAP,  v.]  Fairies,  Demons,  Goblins,  and  Ghosts.  193 

Tipperary ;  Lisgonnell  in  Tyrone ;  and  Liscunnell 
in  Mayo.  We  must  not  suppose  that  these  fearful 
lights  are  always  the  creation  of  the  peasant's 
imagination ;  no  doubt  they  have  been  in  many 
instances  actually  seen,  and  we  must  attribute 
them  to  that  curious  phenomenon,  ignis  fatuus,  or 
Will-o'-the-wisp.  But  the  people  will  not  listen  to 
this,  for  they  know  well  that  all  such  apparitions 
are  the  work  of  the  good  people. 

Fairies  are  not  the  only  supernatural  beings  let 
loose  on  the  world  by  night :  there  are  ghosts, 
phantoms,  and  demons  of  various  kinds  ;  and  the 
name  of  many  a  place  still  tells  the  dreaded  scenes 
nightly  enacted  there.  The  word  dealbh  [dallivj, 
a  shape  or  image  (delb,  effigies,  Zeuss,  10)  is  often 
applied  to  a  ghost.  The  townland  of  Killeenna- 
gallive  in  the  parish  of  Templebredon,  Tipperary, 
took  its  name  from  an  old  churchyard,  where  the 
dead  must  have  rested  unquietly  in  their  graves  ; 
for  the  name  is  a  corruption  (p.  56)  of  Cillin-na- 
ndealbh,  the  little  church  of  the  phantoms.  So 
also  Drumnanaliv  in  Monaghan,  and  Clondallow 
in  Bong's  County,  the  ridge  and  the  meadow  of 
the  spectres.  And  in  some  of  the  central  counties, 
certain  clusters  of  thorn  bushes,  which  have  the 
reputation  of  being  haunted,  are  called  by  the 
name  of  Dullowbush  (dullow,  i.  e.  dealbh),  i.  e.  the 
phantom  bush. 

There  is  a  hideous  kind  of  hobgoblin  generally 
met  with  in  churchyards,  called  a  dullaghan,  who 
can  take  off  and  put  on  his  head  at  will — in  fact 
you  generally  meet  him  with  that  member  in  his 
pocket,  under  his  arm,  or  absent  altogether ;  or  if 
you  have  the  fortune  to  light  on  a  number  of  them 
you  may  see  them  amusing  themselves  by  flinging 
their  heads  at  one  another,  or  kicking  them  for 
footballs.  Ballindollaghan  in  the  parish  of  Bas- 
VOL.  i.  *4 

194    Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

lick,  Roscommon,  must  be  a  horrible  place  to  live 
in,  if  the  dullaghan  that  gave  it  the  name  ever 
shows  himself  now  to  the  inhabitants. 

Everyone  knows  that  a  ghost  without  a  head  is 
very  usual,  not  only  in  Ireland,  but  all  over  the 
world  ;  and  a  little  lake  in  the  parish  of  Donagh- 
more  in  Donegal,  four  miles  south  of  Stranolar,  is 
still  called  Lough  Gillagancan,  the  headless  man's 
lake,  from  having  been  haunted  by  one  of  these 
visitants  (giolla,  a  fellow ;  gan,  without ;  ceann,  a 
head).  But  I  suppose  it  is  only  in  Ireland  you 
could  meet  with  a  ghost  without  a  shirt.  Several 
of  these  tasteless  fellows  must  have  at  some  former 
period  roamed  nightly  at  large  in  some  of  the 
northern  counties,  where  there  are  certain  small 
lakes,  which  are  now  called  Lough  Gillagan- 
leny  or  Gillaganleane,  the  lake  of  the  shirtless 
fellow  (teine,  a  shirt) :  one  for  instance,  two  miles 
east  of  the  northern  extremity  of  Lough  Eask, 
near  the  town  of  Donegal ;  and  another  in  the 
parish  of  Rossinver  in  Leitrim,  five  miles  from 
Manorhamilton,  and  one  mile  west  from  the  vil- 
lage of  Kiltyclogher. 

Glennawoo,  a  townland  in  the  parish  of  Kilmac- 
teige,  Sligo,  must  have  been,  and  perhaps  is  still, 
a  ghastly  neighbourhood,  for  the  name  Gleann-na- 
bhfuath  [Glennawoo]  signifies  the  glen  of  the 
spectres  ;  and  in  the  parish  of  Aghavea,  Ferman- 
agh, is  a  place  which  was  doubtless  almost  as  bad, 
viz.,  Drumarraght,  the  ridge  of  the  arraght  or  ap- 
parition. Near  the  church  of  Kilnamona  in  Clare, 
there  is  a  well  called  Toberatasha ;  it  is  in  the 
form  of  a  coffin,  and  its  shape  is  not  more  dismally 
suggestive  than  its  name,  Tobar-a'-taise,  the  well 
of  the  fetch  or  ghost.  What  kind  of  malignant 
beings  formerly  tormented  the  people  of  Druma- 
baire  in  Leitrim,  it  is  now  impossible  to  tell ;  and 

CHAP,  v.]  Fairies,  Demons,  Goblins,  and  Ghosts.  195 

we  should  be  ignorant  of  their  very  existence  if 
our  annalists  had  not  preserved  the  true  form  of 
the  name — Druim-da-ethiar  [Drum-a-ehir ;  Four 
Masters],  the  ridge  of  the  two  air-demons  (eithiar, 
pron.  ehir,  an  air-demon). 

Besides  the  celebrated  fairy  haunts  mentioned 
at  p.  182,  there  are  several  other  places  in  different 
parts  of  Ireland,  presided  over,  each  by  its  own 
guardian  spirit,  and  among  them  several  female 
fairies,  or  banshees.  Some  of  these  are  very  famous, 
and  though  belonging  to  particular  places,  are  cele- 
brated by  the  bards  over  the  whole  of  Ireland. 

Cliodhna  [Cleena]  is  the  potent  banshee  that 
rules  as  queen  over  the  fairies  of  South  Munster  ; 
and  you  will  hear  innumerable  stories  among  the 
peasantry  of  the  exercise  of  her  powerful  spells. 
Edward  Walsh  makes  his  lover  of  "  O'Donovan's 
Daughter  "  thus  express  himself : — 

"  God  grant  'tis  no  fay  from  Knockfierna  that  woos  me ; 
God  grant  'tis  not  Cleena  the  queen  that  pursues  me  ; 
That  my  soul,  lost  and  lone,  has  no  witchery  wrought  her, 
While  I  dream  of  dark  groves  and  O'Donovan's  daughter.' 

In  the  Dinnsenchus  there  is  an  ancient  poetical 
love  story,  of  which  Cleena  is  the  heroine  :  wherein 
it  is  related  that  she  was  a  foreigner,  and  that  she 
was  drowned  in  the  harbour  of  Glandore,  near 
Skibbereen  in  Cork.  In  this  harbour  the  sea,  at 
certain  times,  utters  a  very  peculiar,  deep,  hollow, 
and  melancholy  roar,  among  the  caverns  of  the 
cliffs,  which  was  formerly  believed  to  foretell  the 
death  of  a  king  of  the  south  of  Ireland  ;  and  this 
surge  has  been  from  time  immemorial  called  Tonn- 
Cleena,  Cleena' s  wave.  Cleena  had  her  palace  in 
the  heart  of  a  great  rock,  situated  about  five  miles 
south-south-west  from  Mallow ;  it  is  still  well 
known  by  the  name  of  Carrig- Cleena,  and  it  ^a.p 
given  name  to  fr»x)  towitjands. 

196     Historical  and  Legendary  Name*.     [PART  n, 

Aeibhell  [Eevil],  or  more  correctly  Aebhinn 
[Eevin],  whose  name  signifies  "beautiful,"  was 
another  powerful  banshee,  and  presided  over  North 
Munster :  she  was  in  an  especial  manner  the 
guardian  spirit  of  the  Dalcassians.  When  the 
Dalcassian  hero,  Dunlang  or  Dooling  O'Hartigan, 
the  friend  and  companion  of  Murchadh  [Murraha], 
Brian  Boru's  eldest  son,  was  on  his  way  to  the 
battle  of  Clontarf,  she  met  him  and  tried  to  dis- 
suade him  from  fighting  that  day.  For  she  told 
him  that  he  would  fall  with  Murchadh :  and  she 
offered  him  the  delights  and  the  immortality  of 
Fairyland,  if  he  would  remain  away.  But  he  re- 
plied that  nothing  could  induce  him  to  abandon 
Murchadh  in  the  day  of  battle,  and  that  he  was 
resolved  to  go,  even  to  certain  death.  She  then 
threw  a  magical  cloak  around  him  which  made 
him  invisible,  warning  him  that  he  would  cer- 
tainly be  slain  if  he  threw  it  off. 

He  rushed  into  the  midst  of  the  battle,  and 
fought  for  some  time  by  the  side  of  Murchadh, 
making  fearful  havoc  among  the  Danes.  Mur- 
chadh looked  round  him  on  every  side,  and  at  last 
cried  out,  "  I  hear  the  sound  of  the  blows  of  Dun- 
lang O'Hartigan,  but  I  cannot  see  him !"  Then 
Dunlang  could  no  longer  bear  to  be  hidden  from 
the  eyes  of  Murchadh  ;  and  he  threw  off  the  cloak, 
and  was  socn  after  slain  according  to  the  fairy's 

The  aged  king,  Brian,  remained  in  his  tent 
during  the  day.  And  towards  evening  the  tent 
was  left  unguarded  in  the  confusion  of  the  battle ; 
and  his  attendants  urged  him  to  mount  his  horse 
and  retire,  for  he  was  in  danger  from  straggling 
parties  of  the  Danes.  But  he  answered :  "Retreat 
becomes  us  not,  and  I  know  that  I  shall  not  leave 
this  Dlace  alive.  For  Aeibhell  of  Craglea  came  to 

CHAP.V.]  Fairies,  Demons,  Goblins,  and  Ghosts.  197 

me  last  night,  and  told  me  that  I  should  be  killed 
this  day"  (see  Wars  of  GGK,  p.  201). 

Aeibhell  had  her  palace  two  miles  north  of  Kil- 
laloe,  in  a  rock  called  Crageevil,  but  better  known 
by  the  name  of  Craglea,  grey  rock.  The  rock  is 
situated  in  a  silent  glen,  under  the  face  of  a  moun- 
tain ;  and  the  peasantry  affirm  that  she  forsook 
her  retreat,  when  the  woods  which  once  covered 
the  place  were  cut  down.  There  is  a  spring  in  the 
face  of  the  mountain,  still  called  Tobereevil, 
Aeibhell's  well. 

There  is  a  legend  common  over  all  Ireland,  con- 
nected generally  with  lakes,  that  there  lives  at  the 
bottom  a  monstrous  serpent  or  dragon,  chained 
there  by  a  superior  power.  The  imprisonment  of 
these  demoniac  monsters  is  commonly  attributed 
to  St.  Patrick,  who,  when  he  cleared  the  country 
of  demons,  chose  this  mode  of  disposing  of  some 
of  the  most  ferocious : — and  there  they  must  re- 
main till  the  day  of  judgment.  In  some  places 
it  is  said  that  they  are  permitted  to  appear  above 
the  water,  at  certain  times,  generally  every  seven 
years ;  and  then  the  inhabitants  hear  the  clanking 
of  chains,  or  other  unearthly  noises. 

During  the  period  of  St.  Patrick's  sojourn  in 
Connaught,  he  retired  on  the  approach  of  Lent  to 
the  mountain  of  Croaghpatrick,  and  there  spent 
some  time  in  fasting  and  prayer.  To  this  histo- 
rical fact  has  been  added  a  fabulous  relation,  which 
Jocelin  in  his  Life  of  St.  Patrick,  written  in  the 
twelfth  century,  appears  to  have  been  the  first  to 
promulgate,  but  which  is  now  oue  of  Ireland's 
most  celebrated  legends,  namely,  that  the  saint 
brought  together  on  the  top  of  the  mountain  all 
the  serpents  and  venomous  creatures  and  demons 
of  Ireland,  and  drove  them  into  the  sea.  There 
is  a  deep  hollow  on  the  northern  face  of  the  moun- 

198     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.      [PART  n. 

tain,  called  to  this  day  Lugnademon,  the  lug  or 
nollow  of  the  demons,  into  which  they  all  re- 
treated on  their  way  to  final  banishment. 

This  story,  however,  is  not  found  in  the  early 
authentic  lives  of  the  saint ;  and  that  it  is  a  com- 
paratively recent  invention  is  evident  from  the 
fact,  that  Ireland's  exemption  from  reptiles  is 
mentioned  by  Solinus,  who  wrote  in  the  third 
century ;  and  Bede  mentions  the  same  fact,  but 
without  assigning  any  cause  ;  whereas,  if  such  a 
remarkable  occurrence  had  been  on  record,  doubt- 
less he  would  not  fail  to  notice  it. 

Legends  of  aquatic  monsters  are  very  ancient 
among  the  Irish  people.  We  find  one  mentioned 
by  Adamnan  (Lib.  II.,  cap.  27),  as  infesting  Loch 
Ness,  in  Scotland.  In  the  Life  of  St.  Mochua  of 
Balla,  it  is  related  that  a  stag  which  was  wounded 
in  the  chase  took  refuge  in  an  island  in  Lough  Ree ; 
but  that  no  one  dared  to  follow  it  "on  account  of 
a  horrible  monster  that  infested  the  lake,  and  was 
accustomed  to  destroy  swimmers."  A  man  was  at 
last  prevailed  on  to  swim  across,  "  but  as  he  was 
returning  the  beast  devoured  him."  O'Flaherty 
(lar  Connaught,  c.  19)  has  a  very  circumstantial 
story  of  an  "  Irish  crocodil,"  that  lived  at  the  bot- 
tom of  Lough  Mask  ;  and  in  O'Clery's  Calendar 
(p.  145)  we  read  about  the  upper  lake  of  Glenda- 
lough: — "They  say  that  the  lake  drains  in  its 
middle,  and  that  a  frightful  serpent  is  seen  in  it, 
and  that  from  fear  of  it  no  one  ever  durst  swim 
in  the  lake."  And  in  some  of  the  very  ancient 
tales  of  the  Lebor-na-hUidhre  we  find  heroes 
encountering  enormous  lake- serpents. 

This  legend  assumes  various  forms  in  individual 
cases,  and  many  are  the  tales  the  people  can  re- 
late of  fearful  encounters  with  a  monster  covered 
Avith  long  hair  and  a  mane ;  moreover,  they  are 

CHAP,  v.]  Fairies,  Demons,  Cfoblins,  and  Ghosts.  199 

occasionally  met  with  in  old  castles,  lisses,  caves, 
&c.,  as  well  as  in  lakes.  The.  word  by  which 
they  are  most  commonly  designated  in  modern 
times,  ispiast ;  we  find  it  in  Cormac's  Glossary  in 
the  old  Irish  form  bdist,  explained  by  the  Lat. 
bestia,  from  which  it  has  been  borrowed ;  and  it 
is  constantly  used  in  the  Lives  of  the  Irish  saints, 
to  denote  a  dragon,  serpent,  or  monster.  Several 
lakes  in  different  parts  of  the  country  are  called 
Loughnapiast,  or  more  correctly,  Loch-na-peiste, 
each  of  which  is  inhabited  by  a  demoniacal  ser- 
pent ;  and  in  a  river  in  the  parish  of  Banagher, 
Deny,  there  is  a  spot  called  Lig-na-peiste  (Lig,  a 
hollow  or  hole),  which  is  the  abode  of  another. 

When  St.  Patrick  was  journeying  westward,  a 
number  of  them  attempted  to  oppose  his  progress 
at  a  place  in  the  parish  of  Ardcarn  in  Roscom- 
mon,  which  is  called  to  this  day  Knocknabeast, 
or  in  Irish,  Cnoc-na-bpiast,  the  hill  of  the  serpents. 
In  the  parish  of  Drumhome  in  Donegal,  stands  afort 
which  gives  name  to  a  townland  called  Lisnapaste ; 
there  is  another  with  a  similar  name  in  the  town- 
land  of  Gullane,  parish  of  Kilconly,  Kerry,  in 
which  the  people  say  a  serpent  used  to  be  seen ; 
and  near  Freshford  in  Kilkenny,  is  a  well  called 
Tobernapeastia,  from  which  a  townland  takes  its 
name.  There  is  a  townland  near  Bailieborough  in 
Cavan,  called  Dundragon,  the  fort  of  the  dragon, 
where  some  frightful  monster  must  have  formerly 
taken  up  his  abode  in  the  old  dun. 

Sometimes  the  name  indicates  directly  their 
supernatural  and  infernal  character ;  as,  for  in- 
stance, in  Pouladown  near  Watergrasshill  in 
Cork,  i.  e.  Poll-a-deamhain,  the  demon's  hole. 
There  is  a  pool  in  the  townland  of  Killarah, 
parish  of  Kildallan,  Cavan,  three  miles  from 
llaijyconnell,  called  Loughandoul,  or,  in  Irish, 

200     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.    [PART  n 

Loch-an-diabJiail,  the  lake  of  the  devil ;  and 
Deune  Castle,  in  the  parish  of  Kilconly  in  Kerry, 
is  the  demon's  castle,  which  is  the  signification  of 
its  Irish  name,  Caislen-a' -deamhain. 



THE  pagan  Irish  divided  their  year,  in  the  first 
instance,  into  two  equal  parts,  each  of  which  was 
afterwards  subdivided  into  two  parts  or  quarters. 
The  four  quarters  were  called  Earrach,  Samhradh, 
Foghmhar,  and  Geimhridh  [Arragh,  Sowra,  Fowar, 
Gevre]  :  Spring,  Summer,  Autumn,  and  Winter, 
which  are  the  names  still  in  use  ;  and  they  began 
on  the  first  days  of  February,  May,  August,  and 
November,  respectively.  We  have  historical  tes- 
timony that  games  were  celebrated  at  the  begin- 
ning of  Summer,  Autumn,  and  Winter ;  and  it 
may  be  reasonably  inferred  that  Spring  was  also 
ushered  in  by  some  sort  of  festivity. 

The  first  day  of  May,  which  was  the  beginning  of 
the  summer  half  year,  was  called  Bealltaine  [Bel- 
tany]  ;  it  is  still  the  name  always  used  by  those 
speaking  Irish  ;  and  it  is  well  known  in  Scotland, 
where  Beltane  has  almost  taken  its  place  as  an 
English  word : — 

"  Ours  is  no  sapling,  chance  sown  by  the  fountain, 
Blooming  at  Beltane  in  winter  to  fade." 

Tuathal  [Thoohal]  the  Acceptable,  king  of  Ire- 
iand  in  the  first  century,  instituted  the  feast  of 
Bealltaine  at  Uisneach,  now  the  hill  of  Ushnagh  in 
Westmeath,  where,  ever  after,  the  pagan  Irish 

CHAP,  vi.]  Customs,  Amusements,  Occupations.  201 

celebrated  their  festivities,  and  lighted  their 
Druidic  fires  on  the  first  of  May ;  and  from  these 
fires,  according  to  Cormac's  Glossary,  the  festival 
derived  its  name : — "  Belttaine,  i.  e.  bil-tene,  i.  e. 
tene-bil,  i.  e.  the  goodly  fire  (tene,  fire),  i.  e.  two 
goodly  fires  which  the  Druids  were  used  to  make, 
with  great  incantations  on  them,  and  they  used  to 
bring  the  cattle  between  them  against  the  diseases 
of  each  year." 

While  Ushnagh  was  regarded  as  the  chief  centre 
of  these  rites,  there  were  similar  observances  on 
the  same  day  in  other  parts  of  Ireland ;  for  Keat- 
ing informs  us  that  "  upon  this  occasion  they  were 
used  to  kindle  two  fires  in  every  territory  in  the 
kingdom,  in  honour  of  the  pagan  god."  Down  to 
a  very  recent  period  these  fires  were  lighted,  and 
the  May-day  games  celebrated  both  in  Ireland  and 
Scotland ;  and  even  at  this  day,  in  many  remote 
districts,  some  relics  of  the  old  druidic  fire  super- 
stitions of  May  morning  still  linger  among  the 

The  May-day  festivities  must  have  been  for- 
merly celebrated  with  unusual  solemnity,  and  for 
a  long  succession  of  generations,  at  all  those  places 
now  called  Beltany,  which  is  merely  the  angli- 
cised form  of  Bealltaine.  There  are  two  of  them 
in  Donegal — one  near  Raphoe,  and  the  other  in 
the  parish  of  Tulloghobegly ;  there  is  one  also 
near  Clogher  in  Tyrone,  and  andther  in  the  parish 
of  Cappagh  in  the  same  county.  In  the  parish  of 
Kilmore,  Armagh,  we  find  Tamnaghvelton,  and  in 
Donegal,  Meenabaltin,  both  signifying  the  field  of 
the  Beltane  sports ;  and  in  Lisbalting,  in  the  parish 
of  Kilcash,  Tipperary,  the  old  lis  where  the  fes- 
tivities were  carried  on  is  still  to  be  seen.  There 

*  See  Wilde's  Irish  Popular  Superstitions  ;  Petrie's  Round 
Towers  ;  and  O'Donovan's  Introduction  to  the  Book  of  Rights. 

202       Historical  and  Legendary  Name*.    [PART  n. 

is  a  stream  joining  the  River  Galey  near  Athea  in 
Limerick,  called  Glasheennabaultina,  the  glasheen 
or  streamlet  of  the  May-day  games. 

One  of  the  Dedannan  kings,  Lewy  of  the  long 
hand,  established  a  fair  or  gathering  of  the 
people,  to  be  held  yearly  on  the  1st  day  of 
August,  at  a  place  on  the  Blackwater  in  Meath, 
between  Navan  and  Kells ;  in  which  various  games 
and  pastimes,  as  well  as  marriages,  were  cele- 
brated, and  which  were  continued  in  a  modified 
form  down  to  the  beginning  of  the  present  cen- 
tury. This  fair  was  instituted  by  Lewy  in  com- 
memoration of  his  foster-mother,  Taillte,  who 
was  daughter  of  the  king  of  Spain  ;  and  in  honour 
of  her  he  called  the  place  Tailltenn  (Tailltee,  gen. 
Tailltenri),  which  is  the  present  Irish  name,  but 
corrupted  in  English  to  Teltown. 

The  place  still  exhibits  the  remains  of  raths  and 
artificial  lakes ;  and  according  to  tradition,  mar- 
riages were  celebrated  in  one  particular  hollow, 
which  is  slill  called  Lag-an-aenaigh  [Laganeany, 
the  hollow  of  the  fair].  Moreover,  the  Irish- 
speaking  people  all  over  Ireland  still  call  the  first 
of  August  Lugh-Nasadh  [Loonasa],  i.  e.  Lewy 'a 

The  first  of  November  was  called  Samhuin 
[savin  or  so  wan],  which  is  commonly  explained 
samh-fhuin,  i.  e.  the  end  of  samh  or  summer ;  and, 
like  Bealltaine,  it  was  a  day  devoted  by  the 
pagan  Irish  to  religious  and  festive  ceremonials. 
Tuathal  also  instituted  the  feast  of  Samnuin  (as 
well  as  that  of  BeUtaine— see  p.  200)  ;  and  <  was 
celebrated  on  that  day  at  Tlachtga,  now  the  Hill 
of  Ward  near  Athboy  in  Meath,  where  fires  were 
lighted,  and  games  and  sports  carried  on.  It  was 
also  on  this  day  that  the  Feis  or  convention  of 
Tara  was  held ;  and  the  festivities  were  kept  up 

CHAP.  vi. J   Customs,  Amusements,  Occupations.  203 

three  days  before  and  three  days  after  Samhuin. 
These  primitive  celebrations  have  descended 
through  eighteen  centuries  ;  and  even  at  the  pre- 
sent time,  on  the  eve  of  the  first  of  November, 
the  people  of  this  country  practise  many  observ- 
ances which  are  undoubted  relics  of  ancient  pagan 

While  the  great  festival  established  by  Tuathal 
was  celebrated  at  Tlachtga,  minor  festivities  were, 
as  in  case  of  the  Belltaine,  observed  on  the  same 
day  in  different  places  through  the  country  ;  and 
in  several  of  these  the  name  of  Samhuin  has  re- 
mained as  a  perpetual  memorial  of  those  bygone 
pastimes.  Such  a  place  is  Knocksouna  near  Kil- 
mallock  in  Limerick.  The  Four  Masters,  who 
men  ion  it  several  times,  call  it  Samhuin — a  name 
exa  ly  analogous  to  Beltany ;  while  in  the  Life 
of  So  Finnchu,  in  the  Book  of  Lismore,  it  is  called 
Cnoc- Samhna,  the  hill  of  Samhuin,  which  is  ex- 
actly represented  in  pronu  iciation  by  Knocksouna. 
According  to  this  last  autk  "ity,  the  hill  was  more 
anciently  called  Ard-na-rioghraidhe  [reery],  the 
hill  of  the  kings ;  from  all  which  we  may  infer 
that  it  was  anciently  a  place  of  great  notoriety. 
In  the  parish  of  Kiltoghert,  county  Leitrim,  there 
is  a  place  with  a  name  having  the  same  significa- 
tion, viz.,  Knocknasawna ;  and  a  hill  two  miles 
from  Raphoe  in  Donegal,  is  called  Mullasawny. 
the  hill-summit  of  Samhain. 

It  would  appear  from  the  preceding  names,  as 
well  as  from  those  that  follow,  that  these  meet, 
ings  were  usually  held  on  hills ;  and  this  was  done 
no  doubt  in  imitation  of  the  original  festival ;  for 
Tlachtga  or  the  hill  of  "Ward,  though  not  high,  is 
very  conspicuous  over  the  flat  plains  of  Meath. 
Drumhawan  near  Bally  bay  in  Monaghan,  repre- 
sents the  Irish  Druim- Shamhuin,  the  ridge  of 

204      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

Samhuin  ;  and  in  the  parish  of  Donaghmoyne  in 
the  same  county,  is  another  place  called  Drumha- 
man,  which  is  the  same  name,  for  it  is  written 
Drumhaven  in  an  old  map  of  1777  ;  in  the  parish 
of  Kilcronaghan,  Londonderry,  we  find  a  place 
called  Drumsamney,  and  the  original  pronuncia- 
tion is  very  well  preserved  in  Drumsawna,  in  the 
parish  of  Magheraculmoney,  Fermanagh.  Car- 
rickhawna  \_Carrick,  a  rock],  is  found  in  the 
parish  of  Toomour  in  Sligo ;  and  Gurteenasowna 
\Gfurteen,  a  little  field),  near  Dunmanway  in  Cork. 

An  assembly  of  the  people,  convened  for  any 
purpose  whatever,  was  anciently  called  aenach 
[ enagh] ;  and  it  would  appear  that  these  as- 
semblies were  often  held  at  the  great  regal  c^nae- 
teries.  For,  first,  the  names  of  many  o'  the 
cemeteries  begin  with  the  word  aenach,  as  At-nach- 
Chruachain,  Aenach- Taitttenn,  Aenach-in-Broga, 
&c. ;  and  it  is  said  in  the  "  History  of  the  Ceme- 
teries" (Petrie,  R.  Towers,  p.  106),  that  "  there 
are  fifty  hills  [burial  mounds]  at  each  Aenach  of 
these."  Secondly,  the  double  purpose  is  shown 
very  clearly  in  the  accounts  of  the  origin  of  Carn- 
Amhalgaidh  [Awly],  near  Killala : — "  Carn- 
Amhalgaidh,  i.  e.  of  Amhalgaidh,  son  of  Fiachra- 
Ealgach,  son  of  Dathi,  son  of  Fiachra.  It  was  by 
him  that  this  earn  was  formed,  for  the  purpose  of 
holding  a  meeting  (aenach)  of  the  Hy  Amhalgaidh 
around  it  every  year,  and  to  view  his  ships  and 
fleets  going  and  coming,  and  as  a  place  of  inter- 
ment for  himself"  (Book  of  Lecan,  cited  in  Petrie's 
R.  Towers,  p.  107.  See  p.  139,  supra). 

In  modern  times  and  in  the  present  spoken 
language,  the  word  aenach  is  always  applied  to  a 
cattle  fair.  It  is  pretty  certain  that  in  some  cases 
the  present  cattle  fairs  are  the  representatives  of 
the  ancient  popular  assemblies,  which  have  con- 

CHAP,  vi.]  Customs,  Amusements,  Occupations.  205 

tinued  uninterruptedly  from  age  to  age,  gradually 
changing  their  purposes  to  suit  the  requirements 
of  each  succeeding  generation.  This  we  find  in 
the  case  of  Nenagh  in  Tipperary,  which  is  still 
celebrated  for  its  great  fairs.  Its  most  ancient 
name  was  Aenach-Thete ;  and  it  was  afterwards 
called — and  is  still  universally  called  by  speakers 
of  Irish — Aenach-  Urmhumhan  [Enagh-TJrooan], 
the  assembly  or  assembly-place  of  Urmhumhan  or 
Ormond,  which  indicates  that  it  was  at  one  time 
the  chief  meeting-place  for  the  tribes  of  east 
Munster.  The  present  name  is  former1,  by  the  at- 
traction of  the  article  'n  to  Aenach,  vi.z.,  nAenach, 
i.  e.  the  fair,  which  is  exactly  represented  in  pro- 
nunciation by  Nenagh  (see  p.  24). 

This  word  forms  a  part  of  a  great  number  of 
names,  and  in  every  case  it  indicates  that  a  fair 
was  formerly  held  in  the  place,  though  in  most 
instances  these  fairs  have  been  long  discontinued, 
or  transferred  to  other  localities.  The  usual  forms 
in  modern  names  are  -eeny,  -eena,  -enagh,  and  in 
Cork  and  Kerry,  -eanig.  Monasteranenagh  in 
Limerick,  where  the  fine  ruins  of  the  monastery 
founded  by  the  king  of  Thomond  in  the  twelfth 
century,  still  remain,  is  called  by  the  Four  Masters, 
Maini$ter-an-aenaigh,  the  monastery  of  the  fair. 
But  the  fair  was  held  there  long  before  the  founda- 
tion of  the  monastery,  and  down  to  that  time  the 
place  was  called  Aenach-beag  (Four  Mast.),  i.  e. 
little  fair,  probably  to  distinguish  it  from  the 
great  fair  of  Nenagh. 

The  simple  word  Enagh  is  the  name  of  about 
twenty  townlands  in  different  counties,  extending 
from  Antrim  to  Cork ;  but  in  some  cases,  especi- 
ally in  Ulster,  this  word  may  represent  eanach,  a 
marsh.  The  Irish  name  for  Enagh,  in  the  parish 
of  Clonlea,  county  Clare,  is  Aenagh-O'bhFloinn 

206      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.    [PART  n. 

[Enagh-O-VlinJ,  the  fair  or  fair-green  of   the 

Ballinenagh  is  the  name  of  a  place  near  New- 
castle in  Limerick,  and  of  another  in  Tipperary, 
while  the  form  Ballineanig  is  found  in  Kerry, 
and  Ballynenagh  in  Londonderry — all  meaning 
the  town  of  the  fair :  Ardaneanig  (arc?,  a  height), 
is  a  place  near  Killarney ;  and  in  Cork  and  Sligo 
we  find  Lissaneena  and  Lissaneeny,  the  fort  of 
the  fair.  The  plural  of  eanach  is  aentaigh  ;  and 
this  is  well  represented  in  pronunciation  hy  Eanty 
(-beg  and  -more),  in  the  parish  of  Kilcorney  in 

In  the  Tripartite  Life  of  St.  Patrick,  we  have 
an  interesting  notice  of  one  of  the  ancient  tribe 
assemblies.  In  the  saint's  progress  through  Con- 
naught,  he  visited  the  assembly  place  of  the  tribe 
of  Amhalgaidh  (Awley :  brother  of  Dathi :  see 
p.  139),  and  preached  to  a  very  great  multitude ; 
and  on  that  occasion  he  converted  and  baptised 
the  seven  sons  of  Amhalgaidh,  and  12,000  persons. 
This  place  was  called  Forrach-mac-nAmhalgaidh 
[Forragh-mac-nawley],  i.  e.  the  assembly  place  of 
Amhalgaidh's  clan ;  the  word  Forrach,  which 
Tirechan  latinises  Forrgea,  signifying  the  piece  of 
ground  on  which  a  tribe  were  accustomed  to  hold 
their  meetings.  According  to  O'Donovan,  this 
name  survives,  and  preserves  the  identity  of  this 
interesting  spot.  About  a  mile  and  a  half  south- 
west f  rom  Killala,  there  are  two  townlands,  adjoin- 
ing one  another,  one  called  Farragh,  which  is 
ittle  changed  from  the  old  form  Forrach,  as  given 
in  the  Tripartite  Life  ;  and  the  other — which  is 
on  a  hill — called  Mullafarry,  i.  e.  Mullach  For- 

*  See  Mr.  W.  M.  Hennessy's  paper  "  On  the  Ourragh  of 
Kildare,"  for  much  valuable  information  on  the  subject  of  the 
ancient  aenachs 

••HAP.  vi.  |   Cttstoms,  Amusements,  Occupations.  207 

raigh,  the  hill  of  the  meeting-place.  There  is  also 
a  hill  in  the  same  neighbourhood,  called  Knock- 
atinnole,  Cnoc-a'-tionoil,  the  hill  of  the  assembly, 
which  commemorates  gatherings  of  some  kind; 
but  whether  in  connection  with  the  meetings  at 
Farragh,  or  not,  it  is  hard  to  say,  for  it  lies  about 
five  miles  distant  to  the  south-east,  on  the  shore  of 
the  Moy. 

The  word  Forrach  or  Farrach  was  employed  to 
designate  meeting-places  in  other  parts  of  Ireland 
also ;  and  we  may  be  pretty  sure  that  this  was 
the  origin  of  such  names  as  Farragh  in  the 
parishes  of  Denn  and  Kilmore  in  Cavan ;  Farra 
in  the  parish  of  Drumcree,  Armagh ;  Farrow  in 
"Westmeath  and  Leitrim ;  Fvry  in  Wexford ; 
Furrow  near  Mitchelstown  in  Cork  ;  Gortnafurra 
in  the  vale  of  Aherlow  in  Tipperary,  the  field  of 
the  assembly-place ;  Farraghroe  in  Longford,  and 
Forramoyle  in  Galway,  the  red,  and  the  bald  or 
bare  meeting-place. 

Nds  [nawce]  is  a  word  of  similar  acceptation  to 
aenach ;  Connac's  Glossary  explains  it  a  fair  or 
meeting-place.  This  term  is  not  often  used,  but 
there  is  one  place  celebrated  in  former  ages,  to 
which  it  has  given  name,  viz.,  Naas  in  Kildare. 
It  was  the  most  ancient  residence  of  the  kings  of 
Leinster  ;  having  been  founded,  according  to  bar- 
dic history,  by  Lewy  c  I2  the  long  hand,  who  also 
founded  Tailltenn  in  Meath  (see  p.  202) ;  it  con 
tinued  to  be  used  as  a  royal  residence  till  the 
tenth  century ;  and  the  great  mound  of  the  palace 
still  remains  just  outside  the  town.  This  word  is 
also  found  in  a  few  other  names,  all  in  Leinster  ; 
euch  as  Nash  in  the  parish  of  Owenduff,  Wexford, 
which  is  still  a  fair-green  ;  and  Ballynaas  in  the 
parish  of  Rathmacnee  in  the  same  county. 

The  word  sluagh  f  sloo],  usually  translated  host, 

208      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

signifies  any  multitude,  but  in  the  Annals  it  is 
commonly  applied  to  an  army  ;  it  occurs  in  the 
Zeuss  MSS.,  where  it  glosses  agmen,  i.  e.  a  host  on 

This  word  forms  a  part  of  the  names  of  several 
places,  where  great  numbers  of  people  must  have 
been  formerly  m  the  habit  of  congregating,  for 
some  purpose.  One  of  the  best  known  is  Ballina- 
sloe,  on  the  Galway  side  of  the  river  Suck.  Its 
Irish  name  as  used  by  the  Four  Masters,  is  Bel- 
atha-na-slttaigheadh  [Bellanaslooa],  the  ford-mouth 
of  the  hosts ;  and  it  is  very  probable  that  these 
gatherings,  whatever  may  have  been  their  original 
purpose,  are  represented  by  the  present  great 
horse  fairs. 

Very  often  the  s  is  replaced  by  t,  by  eclipsis  (see 
page  23).  Srahatloe,  in  the  parish  of  Aghagower, 
Mayo,  is  an  instance,  the  Irish  name  being  Srath- 
a'-tsluaigh,  the  river-holm  of  the  host.  So  also 
Tullintloy  in  Leitrim ;  Knockatloe  in  Clare,  and 
Knockatlowig  near  Castleventry  in  Cork,  all 
signifying  the  hill  of  the  host. 

Meetings  or  meeting-places  are  sometimes  de- 
signated by  the  word  pobul,  which  signifies  peo- 
ple. This  is  not,  as  might  be  supposed  from  its 
resemblance  to  the  English  word,  of  modern  in- 
troduction ;  for  it  occurs  in  the  most  ancient  Irish 
MSS.,  as  for  instance  in  those  of  Zeuss,  where  it 
glosses  populus.  It  is  often  used  to  denote  a  con- 
gregation, and  from  this  it  is  sometimes  employed 
in  the  sense  of  "  parish  ;  "  but  its  primary  sense 
seems  to  be  people  simply,  without  any  reference 
to  assemblies. 

The  barony  of  Pubblebrien  in  Limerick,  is 
called  in  Irish  Pobul-ui-Bhriain  [Pubble-ee-vreen], 
O'Brien's  people,  for  it  was  the  patrimony  of  the 
O'Briens ;  and  on  the  confines  of  Limerick,  Cork, 

CHAP,  vi.]  Customs,  Amusements,  Occupations.  209 

and  Kerry,  is  an  extensive  wild  district,  well 
known  by  the  name  of  Pobble  O'Keeffe, 
O'Keeffe's  people. 

There  is  a  townland  near  Enniskillen,  contain- 
ing the  remains  of  an  old  church,  and  another 
near  Ardstraw  in  Tyrone,  both  called  Pubble,  i.e. 
a  congregation  or  parish.  The  word  occurs  in 
combination  in  Reanabobul  in  the  parish  of  Bally- 
tourney,  Cork,  Reidh-na-bpobuly  the  mountain- 
flat  of  the  congregations  ;  in  Lispopple  in  Dublin 
and  Westmeath  (Us,  a  fort)  ;  and  in  Skephubble, 
near  Finglas,  Dublin,  the  skeagh  or  bush  of  the 
congregation,  where  probably  the  young  people 
were  formerly  accustomed  to  assemble  on  a  Sunday 
after  Mass,  to  amuse  themselves  round  an  ancient 
whitethorn  tree. 

So  far  as  conclusions  may  be  drawn  from  the 
evidence  of  local  names,  we  must  believe  that  the 
pastime  meetings  of  the  peasantry  were  much 
more  common  formerly  than  now.  In  every  part 
of  the  country,  names  are  found  that  tell  of  those 
long-forgotten  joyous  assemblies ;  and  it  is  in- 
teresting to  note  the  various  contrivances  adopted 
in  their  formation. 

The  word  bouchail  [boohil],  a  boy,  is  of  frequent 
occurrence  in  such  names ;  for  example,  Knockan- 
namohilly,  in  the  parish  of  Youghalarra,  Tipperary, 
in  Irish  Cnocdn-na-mbouchaillidhe,  the  hill  of  the 
boys,  indicates  the  spot  where  young  men  used  to 
assemble  for  amusement ;  and  with  the  same  sig- 
nification is  Knocknamohill  in  the  parish  of 
Castlemacadam,  Wicklow ;  Knocknabohilly,  the 
name  of  a  place  near  Cork  city,  and  of  another 
near  Kinsale ;  and  Knockanenabohilly,  in  the 
parish  of  Kilcrumper,  Cork — the  two  last  names 
being  less  correctly  anglicised  than  the  others. 
We  find  names  of  similar  import  in  the  north ; 
VOL.  i.  15 

210      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     ^PART  n. 

Edenamohill  is  a  townland  in  the  parish  of 
Donaghmore,  Donegal ;  and  there  is  another  place 
of  the  same  name  in  the  parish  of  Magheracul- 
money  in  Fermanagh,  both  anglicised  from  Eudan- 
na-mbouchail,  the  hill-brow  of  the  boys ;  and 
Ardnamoghill  (ard,  a  height)  is  the  name  of  a 
place  in  the  parish  of  Killea,  Donegal. 

Sometimes  the  same  idea  is  expressed  by  the 
word  6g  [oge],  which  literally  signifies  young,  but 
is  often  applied  to  a  young  person.  Tullahogue, 
or  Tullyhog,  near  Stewartstown  in  Tyrone,  where 
the  O'Hagans  resided,  and  where  they  inaugurated 
the  chiefs  of  the  O'Neills,  is  very  often  men- 
tioned in  the  annals,  always  by  the  name  of 
Tulach-6g  or  TeaZach-6g,  the  hill  of  the  youths ; 
and  the  name  indicates  that  the  place  was  used  for 
the  celebration  of  games,  as  well  as  for  the  inaugu- 
ration of  the  chieftains.  The  fine  old  fort  on 
which  the  ceremonies  took  place  in  long  past  ages, 
still  remains  on  the  top  of  the  tulach  or  hill ;  and 
from  time  immemorial  down  to  fifty  or  sixty  years 
ago,  a  yearly  gathering  of  young  people  was  held 
on  it,  the4representative  of  the  ancient  assemblies. 
In  Tipperary  we  find  Glennanoge  and  Ballaghoge, 
the  glen  and  the  road  of  $ie  youths.  The  synony- 
mous term  oglafih  occurs  in  Coolnanoglagh,  in  the 
parish  of  Monagay,  Limerick,  the  hill-back  of  the 
young  persons;  while  in  the  parish  of  Grange, 
Armagh,  we  find  Ballygassoon,  the  town  of  the 
gossoons  (young  boys),  or  in  the  Munster  dialect, 

Other  terms  are  employed  to  designate  the 
places  of  these  meetings,  which  will  be  understood 
from  a  few  examples.  There  can  be  little  doubt 
that  Ballysugagh  near  Saul  in  Down,  has  its  name 
from  some  such  merry-makings;  for  its  name, 
Saile-sugach,  merry-town,  indicates  as  much. 

CHAP,  vi.]  Customs,  Amusements,  Occupations.  211 

Knoekaunavogga,  in  the  parish  of  Bourney,  Tip- 
perary,  shows  a  similar  origin,  as  is  seen  by  its 
Irish  name,  Cnocan-a -mhagaidh,  the  hill  of  the 
joking  or  pleasantry ;  and  this  termination  is 
found  in  many  ovuer  names,  such  as  Ardavagga 
(ard,  a  height),  in  the  parish  of  Kilmurry-Ely, 
King's  County ;  and  Cashlaunawogga,  the  castle 
of  the  merriment,  a  ruined  fortress  near  Kilfenora 
in  Clare.  So  also  Knockannavlyman,  in  the 
parish  of  Ballingarry,  Limerick,  Cnocan-a' -bhladh- 
mainn,  the  hill  of  the  boasting ;  Ardingary  near 
Letterkenny,  which  the  Four  Masters  call  Ard- 
an-ghaire,  the  hill  of  the  shouting  or  laughter  ; 
Knocknaclogha  near  Pomeroy  in  Tyrone,  the  seat 
of  Mtcdonnel,  the  commander  of  O'Neill's  gallo- 
glasses,  Cnoc-au-vhluiche  (Four  Masters),  the  hill 
of  t  le  game. 

Not  unfrequently  the  same  idea  is  expressed  by 
ths  word  diomhaoin  [deeveen],  which  signifies  idle 
or  vain — a  term  imposed,  we  may  be  sure,  by  wise 
old  people,  who  looked  upon  these  pastime  meet- 
ings as  mere  idleness  and  vanity.  We  see  this  in 
such  names  as  Drumdeevin,  near  Kilmacrenan  in 
Donegal,  and  Dromdeeveen,  west  of  Dromcolliher 
in  Limerick,  both  signifying  idle  ridge ;  Coom- 
deeween  in  Kerry  (coom,  a  hollow) ;  Tievedeevan 
in  Donegal,  idle  hill- side  (taebh). 

By  an  examination  of  local  names,  we  are  en- 
abled not  only  to  point  out  the  spots  where  the 
peasant  assemblies  were  held,  but  also  often  to  get 
a  glimpse  of  the  nature  of  the  amusements.  Dan- 
cing has  from  time  immemorial  been  a  favourite 
recreation  with  our  peasantry;  and  numbers  of 
places  have  taken  their  names  from  the  circum- 
stance that  the  young  people  of  the  neighbour- 
hood were  accustomed  to  meet  there  in  the  summer 
evenings,  to  forget  in  the  dance  the  fatigues  r\ 
~he  day's  labour. 

212       Historical  and  Legendary  Names.    [PART  n. 

The  word  for  dance  is  rince  or  rinceadh  [rinka]  ; 
and  it  is  curious  that,  of  all  the  Indo-European 
languages,  the  Irish  and  Sanscrit  have  alone  pre- 
served the  word,  and  that  with  little  variation,  the 
Sansc.  rinkha  being  almost  identical  with  the 

Those  who  have  visited  the  great  cave  near 
Mitchelstown,  county  Cork,  will  remember  the 
name  of  the  townland  in  which  it  is  situated — 
Skeheenarinky,  or  in  Irish  SceitMn-a' -rinceadh, 
the  little  bush  of  the  dancing  ;  the  bush  no  doubt 
marking  the  trysting-place,  under  which  sat  the 
musician,  surrounded  by  the  merry  juveniles.  A 
large  stone  (clock)  must  have  served  a  similar 
purpose  in  Clogharinka  in  the  parish  of  Muckalee, 
Kilkenny ;  and  we  have  Clasharinka,  the  trench 
or  hollow  of  the  dance,  near  Castlemartyr  in  Cork. 
A  mill  is  generally  a  place  of  amusement ;  and 
that  it  was  sometimes  selected  for  dance  meetings, 
we  see  by  Mullenaranky,  the  mill  of  the  dance,  in 
the  parish  of  Lisronagh  in  Tipperary.  A  merry 
place  must  have  been  Ballinrink  in  the  parish  of 
Killeagh,  Meath,  since  it  deserved  the  name  of 
dancing  town ;  and  this  was  the  original  name  of 
Kingstown  in  the  parish  of  Faughalstown  in 

When  deer  roamed  wild  through  every  forest, 
when  wild  boars  and  wolves  lurked  in  the  glens 
and  mountain  gorges,  and  various  other  beasts  of 
chase  swarmed  on  the  hills  and  plains,  hunting 
must  have  been  to  the  people  both  an  amusement 
and  a  necessary  occupation.  Our  forefathers,  like 
most  ancient  people,  were  passionately  fond  of  the 
chase  ;  and  our  old  tales  and  romances  abound  in 
descriptions  of  its  pleasures  and  dangers,  and  of 
the  prowess  and  adventures  of  the  hunters.  That 
they  sometimes  had  certain  favourite  spots  for 

CHAP,  vi.]  Customs,  Amusements,  Occupations. 

this  kind  of  sport,  we  have  sufficient  proof  in  such 
names  as  Drumnashaloge  in  the  parish  of  Clon- 
feacle,  Tyrone  ;  and  Drumashellig  near  Ballyroan 
in  Queen's  County  ;  in  Irish,  Druim-na-sealg, 
the  ridge  of  the  chase.  The  word  sealg  [shallog] , 
hunting,  occurs  in  many  other  names,  and  as  it 
varies  little  in  form,  it  is  always  easy  to  recognise 
it.  Derrynashallog  (Derry,  an  oak-wood)  is  in  the 
parish  of  Donagh  in  Monaghan ;  and  Bally  na- 
shallog,  the  town  of  the  hunting,  lies  near  the 
city  of  Londonderry. 

The  very  spot  where  the  huntsman  wound  his 
horn  to  collect  his  dogs  and  companions,  is  often 
identified  by  such  names  as  Tullynahearka,  near 
Aughrim  in  Roscommon,  Tulaigh-na-hadhavrce,  the 
hill  of  the  horn ;  Killeenerk  in  Westmeath  (Kil- 
leen,  a  little  wood),  and  Drumnaheark  in  Donegal 
(Drum,  a  ridge)  ;  Knockerk,  near  Slane  in  Meath, 
and  Lisnahirka  in  Roscommon,  the  hill  and  the 
fort  of  the  horn. 

Another  favourite  athletic  exercise  among  the 
ancient  Irish,  a  ad  which  we  find  very  often  men- 
tioned in  old  sales,  was  hurling ;  and  those  who 
remember  the  eagerness  with  which  it  was  prac- 
tised in  many  parts  of  Ireland  twenty-five  years 
ago,  can  well  attest  that  it  had  not  declined  in 
popularity.  Down  to  a  very  recent  period  it  was 
carried  on  with  great  spirit  and  vigour  in  the 
Phoenix  Park,  Dublin,  where  the  men  of  Meath 
contended  every  year  against  the  men  of  Kildare  ; 
and  it  still  continues,  though  less  generally  than 
formerly,  to  be  a  favourite  pastime  among  the 

The  hurley  or  curved  stick  with  which  the  ball 
was  struck,  corresponding  with  the  bat  in  cricket, 
is  called  in  Irish  comdn,  signifying  literally  a 
T.ttle  crooked  stick,  from  com  or  cam,  curved.  It 

214      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

is  by  this  word  that  the  game  itself  is  commonly 
designated ;  and  it  is  called  coman  in  most  parts  of 
Ireland,  even  by  the  English-speaking  people.  It 
forms  a  part  of  several  names,  but  the  initial  c  is 
commonly  made  g  by  eclipse  (see  p.  22) ;  and  in 
every  case  it  serves  to  identify  the  places  where 
the  game  was  played.  Aughnagomaun,  in  the 
parish  of  Ballysheehan,  Tipperary,  is  written  in 
Irish  Achadh-na-gcomdn,  the  huriing-field ;  there 
is  a  townland  near  Belfast  called  Ballygammon, 
which,  as  it  is  written  Ballygoman  in  a  grant  of 
James  I.,  obviously  represents  Baile-na-gcoman, 
the  town  of  the  hurling  ;  and  we  have  Gortgom- 
mon  in  Fermanagh,  and  Lisnagommon  in  Queen's 
County,  the  field  and  the  fort,  of  the  comans. 

There  is  another  word  commonly  used  to  denote 
hurling — iomdn  [ummaun],  which  literally  means 
driving  or  tossing.  From  this  is  named  the  town- 
land  of  Reanahumana  in  the  parish  of  Feakle  in 
the  east  of  Clare,  which  name  exactly  repre- 
sents the  sound  of  the  Gaelic  Reidh-na-hiomdna, 
the  mountain-flat  of  the  hurling  (see  Readoty). 
From  this  word  is  also  named  Omaun  (-more  and 
-beg),  two  townlands  in  the  parish  of  Killererin  in 
Galway,  south-east  of  Tuam,  the  name  signifying 
a  place  for  hurling. 

Look-out  points,  whether  on  the  coast  to  com- 
mand the  sea,  or  on  the  borders  of  a  hostile 
territory  to  guard  against  surprise,  or  in  the  midst 
of  a  pastoral  country  to  watoh  the  flocks,  are 
usually  designated  by  the  word  coimhead  [covade]. 
This  word  signifies  watching  or  guarding,  and  it 
is  generally  applied  to  hills  from  which  there  is 
an  extensive  prospect.  Mullycovet  and  Mullykivet 
in  Fermanagh  must  have  been  used  for  this  pur- 
pose, for  they  are  both  modern  forms  of  Mullaigh- 
coimheada,  the  hill  of  the  watching ;  and  Glencovet- 

CHAP,  vi.]   Customs,  Amusements,  Occupations.  215 

the  name  of  a  townland  in  Donegal,  and  of  ano- 
ther near  Enniskiilen,  and  Drumcovet  in  Deny, 
have  a  similar  origin.  Sometimes  the  m  is  fully 
pronounced,  and  this  is  generally  the  case  in  the 
south,  and  occasionally  in  the  north  ;  as  in  Cloon- 
tycommade  near  Kanturk  in  Cork,  Gluain-tighe- 
cotmheada,  the  meadow  of  the  watching-house ; 
and  Slieve  Commedagh,  a  high  mountain  near 
Slieve  Donard  in  Down,  the  mountain  of  the 

The  compound  Deagh-choimhead  [Deacovade] 
signifies  "  a  good  reconnoitering  station  "  (deagh, 
good) ;  and  it  gives  name  to  Deehommed  or  De- 
comet  in  Down,  Deechomade  in  Sligo,  Dehomad 
in  Clare,  and  a  few  other  places. 

In  old  Irish  writings  these  reconnoitering  sta- 
tions are  often  mentioned.  For  instance,  in  the 
ancient  tale  of  the  Battle  of  Moyrath,  Con  gal 
Claen  speaks  to  the  druid,  Dubdiad  : — "  '  Thou 
art  to  go  therefore  from  me,  to  view  and  recon- 
noitre the  men  of  Erin  [i.e.  the  Irish  army  under 
King  Domhnall]  ;  and  it  shall  be  according  to  thy 
account  and  description  of  the  chiefs  of  the  west, 
that  I  will  array  my  battalions,  and  arrange  my 
forces.'  Then  Dubdiad  went  to  Ard-na-hiom- 
fhairecse  [Ard-na-himarksha,  i.e.,  the  hill  of  the 
'.reconnoitering],  and  from  it  he  took  his  view." 
(Battle  of  Moyrath,  p.  179). 

Elevated  stations  that  command  an  extensive 
view  often  received  names  formed  from  the  word 
radharc  [ryark  in  the  south  ;  rayark  or  rawark  in 
the  north].  The  Mullaghareirk  mountains  lie  to 
the  south-east  of  Abbeyfeale  in  Limerick,  and  the 
name  Mullach-a-radharc  signifies  the  summit  of 
the  prospect.  The  same  word  is  found  in  Lisa- 
rearke,  in  the  parish  of  Currin,  Monaghan  (Lis,  8 
fort) ;  and  4n  Knockanaryark,  two  miles  east  of 

216     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

Kenmare,  prospect  hill.  There  is  a  residence 
near  Dalkey  in  Dublin,  with  the  name  Rarkan- 
illin,  which  represents  the  Irish  Radharc-an- 
oileain,  the  view  of  the  island,  i.  e.  Dalkey  Island. 

In  an  early  stage  of  society  in  every  country, 
signal  or  beacon  fires  were  in  common  use, 
for  the  guidance  of  travellers  or  to  alarm  the 
country  in  any  sudden  emergency.  Fires  were 
lighted  also  on  certain  festival  days,  as  I  have 
stated  (p.  201)  ;  and  those  lighted  on  the  eve  of 
St.  John,  the  24th  of  June,  are  continued  to  the 
present  day  through  the  greater  part  of  Ireland. 
The  tradition  is,  that  the  May -day  festival  was 
transferred  by  St.  Patrick  to  the  24th  of  June,  in 
honour  of  St.  John,  but  for  this  we  have  no 
written  authority.  The  spots  where  signal  or 
festival  fires  used  to  be  lighted  are  still,  in  many 
cases,  indicated  by  the  names,  though  in  almost 
all  these  places  the  custom  has,  for  ages,  fallen 
into  disuse.  The  words  employed  are  usually  feme 
and  solas  [tinne",  sullas]. 

Teme  is  the  general  word  for  fire,  and  in  modern 
names  it  is  usually  found  forming  the  termination 
tinny.  It  is  found  in  Kiltinny  near  Coleraino>  the 
wood  of  the  fire ;  Duntinny  iu  Donegal  (dun,  a 
fort) ;  Mullaghtinny  near  Clogher  in  Tyrone,  the 
summit  of  the  fire.  Tennyphobble  near  Granard 
in  Longford,  Teine-phobail,  the  fire  of  the  parish 
or  congregation,  plainly  indicates  some  festive 
assembly  round  a  fire.  Cloghaunnatinny,  in  the 
parish  of  Kilmurry  Clare,  was  anciently,  and  is 
still  called  in  Irish,  Clochdn-Uk-teine,  the  stepping- 
stones  of  the  fire-tree,  from  a  large  tree  which 
grew  near  the  crossing,  under  which  May  fires 
used  to  be  lighted.  These  fires  were  no  doubt 
often  lighted  under  trees,  for  the  Four  Masters 
mention  a  place  called  Bile-teineadh  [Bili«  tinne], 

CHAP,  vi.]  Customs,  Amusements,  Occupations.  217 

the  old  tree  of  the  fire ;  which  0' Donovan  identi- 
fies with  the  place  near  Moynalty  in  Meath,  now 
called  in  Irish,  Coill-a'-bhile,  the  wood  of  the  bile, 
or  old  tree,  and  in  English  Billywood.  And  in 
the  parish  of  Ardnurcher,  Westmeath,  there  is  a 
place  now  called  Creeve,  but  anciently  Craebh-teine 
[Creeve-tinng :  Four  Mast.]  the  branchy  tree  of 
the  fire. 

The  plural  of  teine  is  teinte  [tintS],  and  this  is 
also  of  frequent  occurrence  in  names,  as  in  Clon- 
tinty  near  Glanworth,  Cork,  the  meadow  of  the 
fires ;  Mollynadinta,  in  the  parish  of  Eossinver, 
Leitrim;  Mullaigh-na-dteinte,  the  summit  of  the 
fires.  This  word,  with  the  English  plural  added 
(p.  32),  gives  names  to  Tents,  (i.e.  fires),  three 
townlands  in  Cavan,  Fermanagh,  and  Leitrim ; 
and  the  English  is  substituted  for  the  Irish  plural 
in  Tinnies  in  Valentia  Island.  The  diminutive  is 
found  in  Clontineen  in  Westmeath,  and  in  Tul- 
lantintin  in  Cavan,  the  meadow  and  the  hill  of  the 
little  fire. 

Solas  is  the  word  in  general  use  for  light  in  the 
present  spoken  language  ;  there  is  another  form, 
soillse,  which  is  sometimes  used  in  modern  Irish, 
and  which  is  also  found  in  the  Zeuss  MSS  .  where 
it  glosses  lumen  (Zeuss,  gram.  Celt.,  p.  257) ;  and 
its  diminutive  soillsean  (sileshaun)  is  often  found  in 
local  names.  Solas  gives  name  to  Ardsollus,  the 
hill  of  light,  in  Clare ;  in  Antrim  there  is  a  place 
called  Drumnasole,  the  ridge  of  the  lights ;  Sollus 
itself  is  the  name  of  a  towrdand  in  Tyrone  ;  while 
we  find  Bossolus  in  Monaghan,  and  Rostollus  in 
Galway  (s  eclipsed  by  t;  see  p.  23),  the  wood  or 
the  promontory  of  light. 

There  are  similar  names  formed  from  soillsean  ; 
as  for  instance,  Mullaghselsana  in  the  parish  of 
Errigal  Trough,  Monaghan,  the  hill  of  the  illu- 

218     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

minations  ;  and  Corhelshinagh  in  the  same  county, 
the  round  hill  of  the  fires.  Sileshaun,  the  name 
of  a  place  in  the  parish  of  Inagh,  Clare,  exactly 
represents  the  pronunciation  of  the  word ;  and 
this  same  name  is  shortened  to  Selshan  on  the 
eastern  shore  of  Lough  Neagh,  north  of  Lurgan. 

In  former  days,  when  roads  were  few,  and 
bridges  still  fewer,  a  long  journey  was  an  under- 
taking always  arduous,  and  generally  uncertain 
and  dangerous.  Rivers  were  crossed  by  fords,  and 
to  be  able  to  strike  exactly  on  the  fordable  point 
was  to  the  traveller  always  important ;  while  at 
night,  especially  on  a  dark,  wet,  and  stormy  night, 
it  became  not  unfrequently  a  matter  of  life  or 
death.  To  keep  a  light  of  some  kind  burning  on 
the  spot  would  suggest  itself  as  the  most  natural 
and  effectual  plan  for  directing  travellers;  and 
except  in  a  state  of  society  downright  barbarous, 
it  is  scarcely  conceivable  that  some  such  expedient 
would  not  at  least  occasionally  be  adopted. 

The  particular  kind  of  light  employed,  it  would 
now  probably  be  vain  to  speculate ;  a  taper  or 
splinter  of  bogwood  in  a  window  pane,  if  a  house 
lay  near,  a  lantern  hung  on  the  bough  of  a  tree,  a 
blaze  of  dried  furze  or  ferns  kept  up  till  the  ex- 
pected arrival — some  or  all  of  these  we  may  sup- 
pose would  be  adopted,  according  to  circumstances. 
That  this  custom  existed  appears  very  probable 
from  this  fact,  that  many  fords — now  generally 
spanned  by  bridges — in  different  parts  of  Ireland, 
still  go  by  the  name  of  Ath-solais,  the  ford  of  the 
light,  variously  modernised  according  to  locality ; 
and  some  of  them  have  given  names  to  townlands. 
At  the  same  time,  it  must  be  observed,  that  the 
brightness  of  the  water  may  have  originated  some 
of  the  names  quoted  below  ;  for  we  find  the  word 
solus  sometimes  applied  to  water  in  this  sense. 

CHAP,  vi.]  Customs,  Amusements,  Occupations.  219 

Thus  in  a  poem  in  the  Book  of  Lecan,  a  certain 
district  is  designated  "  Fir -tire  na  sreb  solus," 
"Fir-tire  of  the  bright  streams"  (Hy  F.  24); 
and  near  the  lake  of  Coumshingane  in  the 
Comeragh  Mountains  in  Waterf  ord,  a  stream  flows 
down  a  ravine,  which,  after  a  heavy  shower,  is  a 
hrilliant  foaming  torrent  that  can  be  seen  several 
miles  off ;  and  this  is  called  An  t-uisge  solais,  the 
water  of  light,  or  bright  water. 

A  ford  on  the  river  Aubeg,  three  miles  east  of 
Kanturk  in  Cork,  has  given  name  to  the  townland 
of  Assolas ;  there  is  a  ford  of  the  same  name, 
where  the  road  from  Bunlahy  in  Longford,  to 
Scrabby,  crosses  a  little  creek  of  Lough  Gowna ; 
another  on  the  Glenanair  river  near  Doneraile,  on 
the  confines  of  Limerick  and  Cork  ;  and  Athsollis 
bridge  crosses  the  Buin^ea  river,  just  beside  the 
railway,  four  miles  south-east  from  Macroom. 
Several  small  streams  in  different  parts  of  the 
country  have  names  of  this  kind,  from  a  ford  some- 
where on  their  course — one  for  instance,  called 
Aughsullish,  in  the  parish  of  Doon,  Tipperary. 
The  name  of  Lightford  bridge,  two  miles  south- 
east from  Castlebar,  is  a  translation  from  the  Irish 
name  which  is  still  used,  Ath-a'-solais;  and  Bally  - 
nasollus  in  Tyrone  should  have  been  made  Bel- 
lanasollus,  for  its  Irish  name  is  Bel-atha-na-solus, 
the  ford  mouth  of  the  lights.  Ballysoilshaun 
bridge  spans  the  Nenagh  river  four  miles  south- 
east from  Nenagh ;  its  Irish  name  is  Bel-atha-soill- 
sedin,  which  was  originally  the  name  of  the  ford 
before  the  bridge  was  built,  and  which  has  the 
same  meaning  as  the  last  name.  There  is  a  ford 
on  the  river  Swilly,  two  miles  west  of  Letter- 
kenny,  which,  judging  from  its  position  and  its 
being  defended  by  a  castle,  a ,  well  as  from  its 
frequent  mention  in  the  Anna's  must  have  been 

220     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

in  former  days  one  of  the  principal  passes  across 
the  river ;  and  as  such  was  no  doubt  often  sig- 
nalled by  lights.  The  Four  Masters  write  the 
name  Scairbh-sholais  the  scarijf,  or  shallow  ford  of 
the  light ;  it  is  now  called  Scarriffhollis,  and  the 
castle,  which  has  disappeared,  was  called  Castle  - 

Places  of  execution  have  been  at  all  times,  and 
in  all  countries,  regarded  by  the  people  with  feel- 
ings of  awe  and  detestation ;  and  even  after  the 
discontinuance  of  the  practice,  the  traditions  of 
the  place  preserve  the  memory  of  it  from  one 
generation  to  another.  A  name  indicative  of  the 
custom  is  almost  certain  to  fix  itself  on  the  spot, 
of  which  we  have  instances  in  the  usual  English 
names,  Gallows-hill,  Gallows- green,  &c.  ;  and 
such  names,  from  the  peculiarity  of  their  history, 
retain  their  hold,  when  many  others  of  less  im- 
pressive signification  vanish  from  the  face  of  the 

Several  terms  are  used  in  Ireland  to  denote  such 
places,  the  principal  of  which  are  the  following  : — 
crock  signifies  literally  a  cross,  but  is  almost 
always  understood  to  mean  a  cross  as  an  instru- 
ment of  execution,  or  a  gallows.  It  is  of  long 
standing  in  the  language,  and  is  either  cognate 
with  or  borrowed  from  the  Latin  crux,  which  it 
glosses  in  the  Zeuss  MSS.  We  find  it  in  Knock - 
nacrohy,  the  name  of  three  townlands  in  Limerick, 
Kerry,  and  Waterford,  in  Irish  Cnoc-na-croiche, 
the  hill  of  the  gallows ;  and  in  Ardnacrohy  in 
Limerick,  with  the  same  meaning.  The  instru- 
ment of  death  must  have  been  erected  in  an 
ancient  fort,  in  Ranacrohy  in  Tipperary.  The 
word  often  takes  the  forms  of  crehy  and  creha  in 
modern  names,  as  in  Cappanacreha  (Cappa,  a 
plot  of  ground),  in  Galway ;  and  Raheenacrehy 

CHAP,  vi.]    Customs,  Amusements,  Occupations.  221 

near  Trim  in  Meath,  the  little  fort  of  the 

Crochaire  [crohera]  signifies  a  hangman ;  and 
it  is  in  still  more  frequent  use  in  the  formation  of 
names  than  crock,  usually  in  the  forms  croghery 
and  croghera.  Knockcroghery,  the  hangman's 
hill,  is  a  village  in  Roscommon,  where  there  is  a 
station  on  the  Midland  Railway ;  and  there  are 
places  of  the  same  name  in  Cork  and  Mayo. 
Mullaghcroghery,  with  a  similar  meaning,  occurs 
three  times  in  Monaghan ;  and  in  Cork,  Glena- 
croghery  and  Ardnagroghery,  Ard-na-gcrochaire 
(p.  22),  the  hill  of  the  hangmen. 

Sealan  [shallan]  signifies  the  rope  used  by  an 
executioner ;  and  it  is  sometimes  used  to  desig- 
nate the  place  where  people  were  hanged.  It 
gives  name  to  Shallon,  a  townland  near  Finglas 
in  Dublin ;  there  is  another  place  of  the  same 
name  near  Swords,  and  a  third  near  Julianstown 
in  Meath.  Shallany  in  the  parish  of  Derry  vullen, 
Fermanagh,  is  the  same  name  slightly  altered ; 
and  Drumshallon  in  Louth  and  Armagh,  signifies 
the  ridge  of  the  gallows. 

There  is  another  mode  of  designating  places  of 
execution,  from  which  it  appears  that  criminals 
were  often  put  to  death  by  decapitation  :  an  in- 
ference which  is  corroborated  by  various  passages 
in  Irish  authorities.  Names  of  this  kind  are 
formed  on  the  Irish  forms  eeann,  a  head,  which  is 
placed  in  the  end  of  words  in  the  genitive  plural, 
generally  taking  the  forms  nagin,  nagan,  &c. 

There  is  a  place  called  Knocknaggin  near  Bal- 
rothery  in  Dublin,  where  quantities  of  human  re- 
mains were  found  some  years  ago,  and  this  is  also 
the  name  of  a  townland  in  the  parish  of  Desert- 
martin,  Derry  :  Irish  form  Cnoc-na-gceann,  the 
hill  of  the  heads.  The  termination  is  modified  in 

222     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.      [PART  n. 

accordance  with  the  Minister  pronunciation  in 
Knocknagown  in  Cork,  and  in  Knockaunnagown 
in  Waterford,  both  having  the  same  meaning. 
Loughnagin  occurs  in  Donegal,  and  Gortinagin, 
the  little  field  of  the  heads,  in  the  parish  of  Cap- 
pagh  in  Tyrone. 

In  a  state  of  society  when  war  was  regarded  as 
the  most  noble  of  all  professions,  and  before  the 
invention  of  gunpowder,  those  who  manufactured 
swords  and  spears  were  naturally  looked  upon  as 
very  important  personages.  In  Ireland  they  were 
held  in  great  estimation ;  and  in  the  historical 
and  legendary  tales,  we  find  the  smith  was  often 
a  powerful  chieftain,  who  made  arms  for  himself 
and  his  relations.  We  know  that  Vulcan  was  one 
of  the  most  powerful  of  the  Grecian  gods,  and 
the  ancient  Irish  had  their  Goban,  the  JDedannan 
smith- god,  who  figures  in  many  of  the  ancient 

The  land  possessed  by  smiths,  or  the  places 
where  they  resided,  may  in  many  cases  be  deter- 
mined by  the  local  names.  Gobha  [gow]  is  a 
smith,  old  Irish  form  go ba ;  old  Welsh  gob,  now 
gof;  Cornish  and  Breton  gdf.  The  usual  genitive 
form  is  gobhan  [gown],  but  it  is  often  the  same  as 
the  nominative  ;  and  both  forms  are  reproduced 
in  names,  the  former  being  commonly  made  gowan 
or  gown,  and  the  latter  gow.  Both  terminations 
are  very  common,  and  may  be  generally  trans- 
lated "of  the  smith,"  or  if  it  be  nagowan,  "of 
the  smiths." 

Ballygowan,  Ballygow,  and  Ballingowan,  the 
town  of  the  smith,  are  the  names  of  numerous 
places  through  the  four  provinces ;  and  there  are 
several  townlands  in  Ulster  and  Munster  called 
Ballynagowan,  the  town  of  the  smiths.  Occa- 
sionally the  Irish  genitive  plural  is  made  goibhne, 

CHAP,  vi.]  Customs,  Amusements,  Occupations.  223 

which  in  the  west  of  Ireland  is  anglicised  guivnia 
givna,  &c.  ;  as  in  Carrownaguivna  and  Ardgivna, 
Sligo,the  quarter-land,  and  the  height,  of  the  smiths. 

Sometimes  the  genitive  singular  is  made  goe  or 
go  in  English ;  as  we  find  in  Athgoe  near  New- 
castle in  Dublin,  the  smith's  ford;  Kinego  in 
Tyrone  and  Donegal,  the  smith's  head  or  hill 
(ceann)  ;  Ednego  near  Dromore  in  Down,  the  hill- 
brow  (eudan)  of  the  smith.  It  takes  a  different 
form  in  Clongowes  in  Kildare,  the  smith's  meadow, 
where  there  is  now  a  Roman  Catholic  college — 
the  same  name  as  Cloongown  in  Cork. 

Ceard  signifies  an  artificer  of  any  kind;  it 
occurs  in  the  Zeuss  MSS.  in  the  form  of  cerd  or 
cert,  and  glosses  aerarius.  In  Scotland  it  has  held 
its  place  as  a  living  word,  even  among  speakers  of 
English,  but  it  is  applied  to  a  tinker  : — 

"Her  charms  had  struck  a  sturdy  caird, 
As  weel  as  poor  gut  scraper."       BURNS. 

Aerarius,  which  according  to  the  glossographer 
of  a  thousand  years  ago,  is  equivalent  to  cerd, 
signifies  literally  a  worker  in  brass ;  and  curiously 
enough,  this  corresponds  exactly  with  the  de- 
cription  the  caird  gives  of  himself  in  Burns' 
poem  : — 

"Mybonnie  lass, 
I  work  in  brass, 
A  tinker  is  my  station." 

This  word  usually  enters  into  names  with  the  c 
eclipsed  ^p.  22),  forming  the  termination  nn garde 
or  nagard,  "of  the  artificers."  Thus  there  are 
several  places  in  Antrim,  Derry,  Limerick,  and 
Clare,  called  Ballynagarde,  in  Irish  Baik-na- 
gceard,  the  town  of  the  artificers :  the  same  name  is 
corrupted  to  Ballynacaird  in  the  parish  of  Racavan 
in  Antrim,  and  to  Ballynacard  in  King's  County, 

224     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

Castlegarde  and  Gortnagarde  in  Limerick,  the 
castle,  and  the  field,  of  the  artificers. 

Cearda  or  ceardcha  denotes  a  workshop  of  any 
kind,  but  it  is  now  generally  applied  to  a  forge  : 
old  Irish  cerddchae,  officina  (Zeuss).  It  enters 
very  often  into  names  as  a  termination,  under 
several  forms,  indicating  the  spots  where  forges 
formerly  stood.  It  is  very  often  contracted  to  cart, 
as  in  Coolnacart  in  Monahan,  which  would  be 
correctly  written  in  Irish  Cul-na- ceardcha,  the  hill- 
back  of  the  forge.  A  final  n  is  often  added,  in 
accordance  with  the  fifth  declension ;  as  in  Cool- 
nacartan  in  Queen's  County,  the  same  name  as  the 
last ;  Ballycarton  in  Derry ;  Mullaghcarton  in 
Antrim  (mullach,  a  summit) ;  Shronacarton  and 
Rathnacarton  in  Cork,  the  nose  or  point,  and  the 
fort,  of  the  forge.  Other  forms  are  exhibited  in 
Farranacardy  in  Sligo,  forge  land  ;  and  Tullyna- 
gardy  near  Newtownards  in  Down,  Tulaigh-na- 
gceardcha,  the  hill  of  the  forges. 

Saer,  a  builder  or  carpenter,  appears  in  modern 
names  generally  in  the  form  seer  ;  as  in  Rathna- 
seer  in  Limerick,  the  fort  of  the  carpenters ; 
Derrynaseer  (Derry,  an  oak  wood)  the  name  of 
several  townlands  in  Leitrim  and  the  Ulster  coun- 
ties ;  Farranseer  in  Cavan  and  Londonderry,  car- 
penter's land.  Sometimes  the  s  becomes  t  by 
eclipsis  (page  23) ;  as  in  Ballinteer,  the  name  of 
a  place  near  Dundrum  in  Dublin,  and  of  another 
place  in  Londonderry,  in  Irish  Baik-an-  tsaeir,  the 
town  of  the  carpenter  or  builder. 

The  ancient  Celtic  nations  navigated  their  seas 
and  lakes  in  the  curragh  or  hide-covered  wicker 
boat ;  and  it  is  very  probable  that  it  was  in  fleets 
of  these  the  Irish  made  their  frequent  descents  on 
the  coasts  of  Britain  and  Gaul.  Canoes  hollowed 
out  of  a  single  tree  were  also  in  extensive  use  in 

CHAP.  vi. J   Customs,  Amusements,  Occupations.  225 

Ireland,  especially  on  the  rivers  and  lakes,  and 
they  are  now  frequently  found  buried  in  lakes  and 
dried-up  lake  beds. 

Cobhlach  [cowlagh]  means  a  fleet ;  but  the  term 
was  applied  to  a  collection  of  boats,  such  as  were 
fitted  out  for  lake  or  river  navigation ;  as  well  as 
to  a  fleet  of  ships.  In  Munster  the  word  is 
pronounced  as  if  written  cobhaltach  [coltagh],  and 
it  is  preserved  according  to  this  pronunciation  in 
the  names  of  several  places,  the  best  known  of 
which  is  Carrigaholt,  a  village  in  Clare,  at  the 
mouth  of  the  Shannon.  The  Four  Masters  write 
it  Carraig-an-chobhlaigh  [Carrigahowly],  the  rock 
of  the  fleet ;  and  the  rock  from  which  it  took  its 
name  rises  over  the  bay  where  the  fleets  anchored, 
and  is  crowned  by  the  ruins  of  a  castle.  The 
present  Irish  pronunciation  is  Carraig-d-chobhal- 
taigh  [Carrigaholty],  which  by  the  omission  of  the 
final  syllable,  settled  into  the  modern  name. 
Another  place  of  the  same  name,  also  well  known, 
and  which  preserves  the  correct  Irish  pronuncia- 
tion, is  Carrigahowly  on  Newport  bay  in  Mayo, 
the  castle  of  the  celebrated  Grace  O'Malley,  the 
Connaught  chief  tainess,  who  paid  a  visit  to  Queen 
Elizabeth.  The  word,  with  its  Munster  pronuncia- 
tion, appears  in  Bingacoltig  in  Cork  harbour, 
opposite  Hawlbowline  island,  the  rinn  or  point  of 
the  fleet. 

Most  of  the  various  terms  employed  to  designate 
ships  and  boats  also  find  their  way  into  local 
names.  According  to  the  Book  of  Lecan  and 
other  authorities,  Ceasair  and  her  people  (see  p. 
161)  landed  at  a  place  called  Dun-na-mbarc,  the 
fortress  of  the  barks  or  ships,  which  O'Donovan 
(Four  Mast.,  vol.  i.,  p.  3)  believes  is  the  place  now 
called  Dunnamark,  near  Bantry.  And  this  word 
bare  is  not,  as  might  be  thought,  a  loan-word  from 

VOL.  I.  16 

226       Historical  and  Legendary  Names.  [PART  n. 

English,  for  it  is  used  in  our  oldest  MSS.  (as  in  L. 
na  hUidhre  :  see  Kilk.  Arch.  Jour.  1870,  p.  100). 
Long  signifies  a  ship.  According  to  Cormac's 
Glossary,  it  is  derived  from  the  Saxon  word  lang, 
long  ;  it  appears  more  likely,  however,  that  both 
the  Saxon  and  Irish  words  are  cognate  with  the 
Lat.  longus,  for  we  find  the  Irish  word  in  the 
Zeuss  MSS.  ( forlongis  =  navigatione) .  It  occurs  oc- 
casionally in  local  names,  as  in  Tralong  near  Ross- 
Carbery  in  Cork,  the  strand  of  the  ships ;  Dun- 
nalong  on  the  Foyle,  five  miles  south  of  Derry, 
the  name  of  which  is  Irish  as  it  stands,  and  sig- 
nifies the  fortress  of  the  ships ;  Annalong  on  the 
coast  of  the  county  Down,  Ath-na-long,  the  ford 
of  the  ships,  a  name  which  shows  that  the  little 
creek  at  the  village  was  taken  advantage  of  to 
shelter  vessels,  in  ancient  as  well  as  in  modern 

Many  places  take  their  names  from  bad,  a  boat ; 
several  of  which  spots,  we  may  be  pretty  certain, 
were  ferries,  in  which  a  boat  was  always  kept, 
little  or  nothing  different  from  the  ferries  of  the 
present  day.  Such  a  place  was  Rinawade  on  the 
Liffey,  near  Celbridge,  above  Dublin — Rinn-d>- 
bhdid,  the  point  of  the  boat ;  and  Donabate  near 
Malahide,  the  church  (domhnach)  of  the  boat. 

"  The  Irish  made  use  of  another  kind  of  boat  in 
their  rivers  and  lakes,  formed  out  of  an  oak 
wrought  hollow  (i.  e.  one  oak),  which  is  yet  used 
in  some  places,  and  called  in  Irish  coiti,  English 
cott "  (Harris's  Ware,  p.  179).  The  correct  Irish 
word  is  cot,  of  which  coiti  or  coite  is  the  genitive, 
and  it  is  still  in  constant  use  for  a  small  boat  or 
canoe.  From  it  is  derived  the  name  of  Annacotty, 
now  a  small  village  on  the  river  Mulkear,  east  of 
Limerick,  called  in  Irish  Ath-na-coite,  the  ford  of 
the  cot  or  small  boat ;  as  well  as  that  of 

CHAP.  vii. J    Agriculture  and  Pasturage.  227 

cotty  in  Clare,  the  cliff  of  the  boat :  the  name  of 
Carrickacottia  on  the  shore  of  the  river  Erne,  a 
mile  below  Belleek,  indicates  that  the  cot  for  the 
conveyance  of  passengers  across,  used  to  be  moored 
to  the  carrick  or  rock.  A  diminutive  form  appears 
in  the  name  of  a  well-known  lake  near  Killarney, 
Lough  Guitane,  which  the  people  pronounce  Loch- 
coitedin,  the  lake  of  the  little  cot — a  name  exactly 
the  same  as  Loughacutteen  in  the  parish  of  White- 
church  near  Caher  in  Tipperary,  only  that  a 
different  diminutive  is  used 



THE  inhabitants  of  this  country  were,  from  the 
earliest  antiquity,  engaged  in  agriculture  and 
pasturage.  In  our  oldest  records  we  find  constant 
mention  of  these  two  occupations ;  and  the  clearing 
of  plains  is  recorded  as  an  event  worthy  of  special 
notice,  in  the  reigns  of  many  of  the  early  kings. 

It  has  been  remarked  by  several  writers,  and  it 
is  still  a  matter  of  common  observation,  that  many 
places,  especially  hill-sides,  now  waste  and  wild, 
show  plain  traces  of  former  cultivation.  Boate 
(Nat.  Hist.  Chap.  X.,  Sec.  iii.),  writes : — "It  hath 
been  observed  in  many  parts  of  Ireland,  chiefly  in 
the  county  of  Meath,  and  further  northward,  that 
upon  the  top  of  great  hills  and  mountains,  not 
only  at  the  side  and  foot  of  them,  to  this  day  the 
ground  is  uneven,  as  if  it  had  been  plowed  in 
former  times.  The  inhabitants  do  affirm,  that 
fheir  forefathers  being  much  given  to  tillage,  con- 

228        historical  and  Legendary  Names.  ['PART  u. 

trary  to  what  they  are  now,  used  to  turn  all  to 
plowland."  The  Archbishop  of  Dublin,  in  a  letter 
inserted  in  the  same  book  says  : — "  For  certain, 
Ireland  has  been  better  inhabited  than  it  is  at 
present :  mountains  that  now  are  covered  with 
boggs,  have  formerly  been  plowed  ;  for  when  you 
dig  five  or  six  feet  deep,  you  discover  a  proper 
soil  for  vegetables,  and  find  it  plowed  into  ridges 
and  furrows."  And  Smith  (Hist,  of  Cork,  I., 
198),  speaking  of  the  mountains  round  the  source 
of  the  river  Lee,  tells  us : — "  Many  of  the  moun- 
tains have  formerly  been  tilled,  for  when  the  heath 
that  covers  them  is  pulled  up  and  burned,  the 
ridges  and  furrows  of  the  plough  are  visible." 

These  facts  tend  to  confirm  the  opening  state- 
ment of  this  ch  pter,  that  the  Irish  have  from  all 
time  lived  partly  by  tillage.  Many  have  come  to 
the  same  conclusion  as  the  Archbishop  of  Dublin, 
that  "  Ireland  has  been  better  inhabited  than  it  is 
at  present"  (about  1645).  But  I  think  Boate 
gives  the  true  solution  in  the  continuation  of  the 
passage  quoted  above : — "  Others  say  that  it  was 
done  for  want  of  arable,  because  the  champain  was 
most  everywhere  beset  and  overspread  with  woods, 
which  by  degrees  are  destroyed  by  the  wars." 

There  are  several  terms  entering  into  local 
names,  which  either  indicate  directly,  or  imply, 
agricultural  operations,  the  enclosure  of  the  land 
by  fences,  or  its  employment  as  pasture  ;  and  to 
the  illustration  of  those  that  occur  most  frequently 
I  will  devote  the  present  chapter. 

Ceapach  [cappagh]  signifies  a  plot  of  land  laid 
out  for  tillage;  it  is  still  a  living  word  in  Con- 
naught,  and  is  in  common  use  in  the  formation  of 
names,  but  it  does  not  occur  in  Ulster  so  frequently 
as  in  the  other  provinces.  Cappagh  and  Cappa 
are  the  most  usual  anglicised  forms ;  and  these 

CHAP,  vii.]    Agriculture  and  Pasturage.  229 

either  alone  or  in  combination,  give  names  to  nu- 
merous places.  It  has  been  often  asserted,  and 
seems  generally  believed,  that  Cappoquin  (county 
Waterford)  means  "  The  head  of  the  house  of 
Conn ;  "  but  this  is  a  mere  guess  :  the  name  is  a 
plain  Irish  compound,  Ceapach-Chuinn,  signifying 
merely  Conn's  plot  of  land,  but  no  one  can  tefl 
who  this  Conn  was. 

Cappagh white  in  Tipperary,  is  called  after  the 
family  of  White ;  Cappaghcreen  near  Dunboyne, 
in  Meath,  withered  plot ;  Cappanageeragh  near 
Geashill  in  King's  County,  the  plot  of  the  sheep 
Cappateemore  in  Clare,  near  Limerick  city,  is  in 
Irish  Ceapach-a'-tighe-nihoir,  the  plot  of  the  great 
house ;  Cappanalarabaun  in  Galway,  the  plot  of 
the  white  mare ;  Cappaghmore  and  Cappamore, 
great  tillage  plot.  The  word  is  sometimes  made 
Cappy,  which  is  the  name  of  a  townland  in  Fer- 
managh ;  Cappydonnell  in  King's  County,  Don- 
nell's  plot ;  and  the  diminutive  Cappog  or  Cappoge 
(little  plot),  is  the  name  of  several  places  in  Ulster, 
Leinster,  and  Munster. 

Garrdha  [gara],  a  garden;  usually  made  garry 
or  garra  in  modern  names.  About  half  a  mile 
from  Banagher  in  King's  County,  are  situated  the 
ruins  of  Garry  Castle,  once  the  residence  of  the 
Mac  Coghlans,  the  chiefs  of  the  surrounding  terri- 
tory. This  castle  is  called  in  the  Annals,  Garrdha- 
an-chaislein  [Garran-cashlane],  i.  e.  the  garden  of 
the  castle  ;  and  from  this  the  modern  name  Garry- 
castle  has  been  formed,  and  has  been  extended  to 
the  barony.  The  literal  meaning  of  the  old 
designation  is  exactly  preserved  in  the  name  of 
the  modern  residence,  Castle  Garden,  situated 
near  the  ruins. 

Garry,  i.  e.  the  garden,  is  the  name  of  a  place 
near  Ballymouey  in  Antrim  ;  and  the  parish  of 

230       Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     'LPART  J  r< 

Myross,  west  of  Glandore  in  Cork,  is  called  the 
Garry,  from  its  fertility  compared  with  the  sur- 
rounding district.  The  well-known  Garryowen, 
near  Limerick,  signifies  Owen's  garden ;  Garry- 
sallagh  in  Cavan  and  other  counties,  dirty  garden, 
and  sometimes,  willow  garden;  Garryvicleheen 
near  Thurles  in  Tipperary,  Mac  Leheen  s  garden  : 
Ballingarry,  the  town  of  the  garden,  is  the  name 
of  a  town  on  the  borders  of  Limerick  and  Tip- 
perary, and  of  fourteen  townlands.  The  word 
Garry  begins  the  names  of  about  ninety  town- 
lands  scattered  over  the  four  provinces. 

Gort,  a  tilled  field  :  in  the  Zeuss  MSS.  it  occurs 
in  the  form  gart,  and  glosses  hortus,  and  Colgan 
translates  it  prcedium.  It  is  obviously  cognate 
with  Fr.  jardin,  Sax.  geard,  Eng.  garden,  Lat. 
hortus.  It  is  a  very  prolific  root- word,  for  there 
are  more  than  1,200  townlands  whose  names  are 
f orrned  by,  or  begin  with  Gort  and  Gurt,  its  usual 
modern  forms.  Gortnaglogh,  or  as  it  would  be 
written  in  Irish,  Gort-na-gcloch,  the  field  of  the 
stones,  is  the  name  of  a  dozen  townlands,  some  of 
them  in  each  of  the  four  provinces;  Gortmillish 
in  Antrim,  sweetfield,  so  called  probably  from 
the  abundance  of  honeysuckle ;  Gortaganniff  near 
Adart  in  Limerick,  the  field  of  the  sand.  The 
town  of  Gort  in  Galway,  is  called  by  the  Four 
Masters  Gort-innsi-Guaire,  and  this  is  also  its 
present  Irish  name ;  it  signifies  the  field  of  the 
island  of  Guara,  and  it  is  believed  that  it  took  its 
name  from  Guaire  Aidhne,  king  of  Connaught  in 
the  seventh  century  (see  p.  104). 

Gr  rteen,  Gortin,  and  Gurteen  (little  field),  three 
different  forms  of  the  diminutive,  are  exceedingly 
common,  and  are  themselves  the  names  of  about 
100  townlands  and  villages.  The  ancient  form 
gart  is  preserved  in  the  diminutive  Gartan,  the 

CHAP,  vii.]     Agriculture  and  Pasturage.  231 

name  of  a  parish  in  Donegal,  well-known  as  the 
birthplace  of  St.  Columba ;  which  is  written 
Gortan  in  some  ancient  Irish  authorities,  and 
Gar  tan  in  others. 

Tamhnach  [tawnagh]  signifies  a  green  field 
which  produces  fresh  sweet  grass.  This  word 
enters  very  generally  into  names  in  Ulster  and 
Connaught,  especially  in  the  mountainous  dis- 
tricts :  it  is  found  occasionally,  though  seldom,  in 
Leinster,  and  still  more  seldom  in  Munster.  In 
modern  names  it  usually  appears  as  Tawnagh, 
Tawny,  and  Tonagh,  which  are  themselves  the 
names  of  several  places ;  in  the  north  of  Ulster 
the  aspirated  m  is  often  restored  (see  p.  43),  and 
the  word  then  becomes  Tamnagh  and  Tamny.  In 
composition  it  takes  all  the  preceding  forms,  as 
well  as  Tawna  and  Tamna. 

Saintfield  in  Down  is  a  good  example  of  the  use 
of  this  word.  Its  old  name,  which  was  used  to  a 
comparatively  late  period,  and  which  is  still  well 
known,  was  Tonaghneeve,  the  phonetic  represen- 
tative of  Tamhnach-naemh,  the  field  of  saints 
There  is  a  townland  near  the  town  which  still 
retains  the  name  of  Tonaghmore,  great  field ; 
originally  so  called  to  distinguish  it  from  Tonagh- 

The  forms  Tawnagh  and  Tawna  are  found  in 
Tawnaghlahan  near  Donegal,  broad  field ;  Taw- 
naghaknaff  in  the  parish  of  Bohola,  Mayo,  the 
fields  of  the  bones  (cnamh,  a  bone),  which  pro- 
bably points  out  the  site  of  a  battle ;  Tawnakeel 
near  Crossmolina,  narrow  field.  Tawny  appears 
in  Tawnyeely  near  Mohill  in  Leitrim,  the  field  of 
the  lime  (Tamhnach-aelaigh) ;  and  Tawny  brack  in 
Antrim  speckled  field.  Tamnagh  and  its  modifi- 
cations gives  names  to  Tamnaghbane  in  Armagh, 
white  field  :  Tt.  iinaficarbo*-  and  Tamnafiglassan, 

232     Historical  and  Legendary  Names      [  PART  n. 

both  in  Armagh — the  first  Tamhnach-feadha-car- 
bait,  the  field  of  the  wood  of  the  chariot,  and  the 
second  the  field  of  Glassan's  wood  ;  Tamnymartin 
near  Maghera  in  Deny,  Martin's  field. 

Rathdowney,  the  name  of  a  village  and  parish 
in  Queen's  County,  signifies  as  it  stands,  the  fort 
of  the  church  (domhnach) ;  hut  the  correct  name 
would  be  Rathtoumey,  representing  the  Irish  Rath- 
tamhnaigh,  as  the  Four  Masters  write  it — the  fort 
of  the  green  field.  This  was  the  old  pagan  name, 
which  the  people  corrupted  (by  merely  changing 
t  to  d)  under  the  idea  that  domhnach  was  the  proper 
word,  and  that  the  name  was  derived  from  the 
church,  which  was  built  on  the  original  rath. 

There  is  a  form  Tavnagh,  used  in  some  of  the 
Ulster  counties,  especially  in  Antrim  and  Mona- 
ghan;  such  as  Tavnaghdrissagh  in  Antrim,  the 
field  of  the  briers  ;  Tavanaskea  in  Monaghan,  the 
field  of  the  bushes.  In  composition  the  t-  is  some- 
times aspirated,  as  in  Corhawnagh  and  Corhawny- 
the  rough  field,  or  the  round  hill  of  the  field,  the 
names  of  several  places  in  Cavan  and  the  Con- 
naught  counties. 

Achadh  [aha],  a  field ;  translated  campulus  by 
Adamnan.  It  is  generally  represented  in  modern 
names  by  agha,  agh,  or  augh ;  but  in  individual 
cases  the  investigator  must  be  careful,  for  these 
three  words  often  stand  for  ath,  a  ford. 

The  parish  of  Agha  in  Carlow  takes  its  name 
from  a  very  old  church  ruin,  once  an  important 
religious  foundation,  which  the  Four  Masters  call 
Achadh-arghlais,  the  field  of  the  green  tillage. 
Aghinver  on  Lough  Erne  in  Fermanagh,  is  called 
in  the  Annals  Achadh-inbhir,  the  field  of  the  invert 
or  river  mouth.  Aghmacart  in  Queen's  County, 
is  in  Irish  Achadh-mic-Airt,  the  field  of  Art'a 
son;  Aghindarragh  in  Tyrone,  the  field  of  the 

CHAP.  vii.  J     Agriculture  and  Pasturage.  233 

oak;  Aghawoney  near  Kilmacrenan  in  Donegal, 
written  by  the  Four  Masters  Achadh-mhona,  bog- 
field.  Achonry  in  Sligo  is  called  in  the  Annals, 
Achadh-Chonaire  [Ahaconnary],  Conary's  field. 
Ardagh  is  the  name  of  numerous  villages,  town- 
lands,  and  parishes  through  the  four  provinces ; 
several  of  these  are  often  mentioned  in  the  Annals 
the  Irish  form  being  always  Ard-achadh,  high  field 
In  a  few  cases  the  modern  form  is  Ardaghy. 

Cluain  [cloon]  is  often  translated  pratum  by 
Latin  writers,  and  for  want  of  a  better  term  it  is 
usually  rendered  in  English  by  "  lawn"  or 
"meadow/'  Its  exact  meaning,  however,  is  a 
fertile  piece  of  land,  or  a  green  arable  spot,  sur- 
rounded or  nearly  surrounded  by  bog  or  marsh  on 
one  side,  and  water  on  the  other. 

The  word  forms  a  part  of  a  vast  number  of 
names  in  all  parts  of  Ireland ;  many  of  the  religi- 
ous establishments  derived  their  names  from  it ; 
and  this  has  led  some  writers  into  the  erroneous 
belief  that  the  word  originally  meant  a  place  of 
religious  retirement.  But  it  is  certain  that  in  its 
primitive  signification  it  had  no  reference  to  reli 
gion  ;  and  its  frequent  occurrence  in  our  ecclesi- 
astical names  is  sufficiently  explained  by  the  well- 
known  custom  of  the  early  Irish  saints,  to  select 
lonely  and  retired  places  for  their  own  habitations, 
as  well  as  for  their  religious  establishments. 

The  names  of  many  of  the  religious  cloons  are 
in  fact  of  pagan  origin,  and  existed  before  the 
ecclesiastical  foundations,  having  been  adopted 
without  change  by  the  founders: — among  these 
may  be  reckoned  the  following.  Clones  (pro- 
nounced in  two  syllables)  in  Monaghan,  where  a 
round  tower  remains  to  attest  its  former  religious 
celebrity ;  its  name  is  written  in  the  Annals 
Cluain-Eois  [Cloonoce],  Eos's  meadow;  and  it  is 

234     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

not  improbable  that  Eos  was  the  pagan  chief  who 
raised  the  great  fort,  the  existence  of  which  proves 
it  to  have  been  a  place  of  importance  before  the 
Christian  settlement. 

Clonard  in  Meath,  where  the  celebrated  St. 
Finian  had  his  great  school  in  the  sixth  century, 
is  called  in  all  the  Irish  authorities,  Cluain-Eraird, 
from  which  the  present  name  has  been  contracted. 
Many  have  translated  this  "  The  retirement  on 
the  western  height ;"  but  this  is  a  mere  guess,  and 
at  any  rate  could  not  be  right,  for  the  site  of  the 
establishment  is  a  dead  flat  on  the  left  bank  of  the 
Boyne.  According  to  Colgan,  Erard  was  a  man's 
name  signifying  "  noble,  exalted,  or  distinguished, 
and  it  was  formerly  not  unfrequent  among  the 
Irish"  (A.  SS.,  p.  28).  He  then  states  that  this 
place  was  so  called  from  some  man  named  Erard, 
so  that  Cluain-Eraird  or  Clonard  signifies  Erard's 
meadow ;  and  since,  as  in  case  of  Clones,  a  moat 
still  remains  there,  Erard  may  have  been  the 
pagan  chief  who  erected  it,  ages  before  the  time 
of  St.  Finian.  It  is  worthy  of  remark  that  Erard 
is  occasionally  met  with  as  a  personal  name  even 
at  the  present  time.  There  are  several  other 
places  in  Leinster  and  Munster  called  Clonard 
and  Cloonard,  but  in  these  the  Irish  form  of  the 
name  is  probably  Cluain-ard,  high  meadow. 

We  find  the  names  of  some  of  the  religious 
establishments  formed  by  suffixing  the  name  of  a 
saint  or  some  other  Christian  term  to  the  word 
cluain ;  and,  in  these  cases,  this  cluain  may  be  a 
remnant  of  the  previous  pagan  name,  which  was 
partly  changed  after  the  ecclesiastical  foundation. 
Clonallan,  now  a  parish  near  Newry  in  Down,  is 
mentioned  by  Keating,  Colgan,  and  others,  who 
call  it  Cluain- Dallain,  Dalian's  meadow ;  the  d  is 
omitted  by  aspiration  (see  p.  20)  in  the  modern 

CHAP,  vii.]     Agriculture  and  Pasturage.  235 

name,  but  in  the  Taxation  of  1306  it  is  retained, 
the  place  being  called  Clondalan.  It  received  its 
name  from  Dalian  Forgall,  who  flourished  about 
the  year  580  ;  he  was  a  celebrated  poet,  and  com- 
posed a  panegyric  in  verse  on  St.  Columba,  called 
Amhra-Choluimcille,  of  which  we  possess  copies  in 
a  very  old  dialect  of  the  Irish.  From  him  also 
the  church  of  Kildallan  in  Cavan,  and  some  other 
churches  derived  their  names  (see  Reeves,  Eccl. 
Ant.,  p.  114). 

Except  in  a  very  few  cases,  cluain  is  represented 
in  the  present  names  by  either  clon  or  cloon ;  and 
there  are  about  1,800  places  in  Ireland  whose 
names  begin  with  one  or  the  other  of  these  syl- 
lables. Clon  is  found  in  the  following  names  : — 
Clonmellon  in  Westmeath  is  written  by  the  Four 
Masters,  Cluain-Mildin,  Milan's  Meadow.  Clonmel 
in  Tipperary,  they  write  Cluain-meala  (meadow  of 
honey),  which  is  the  Irish  name  used  at  present : 
this  name,  which  it  bore  long  before  the  founda- 
tion of  the  town,  originated,  no  doubt,  from  the 
abundance  of  wild  bees'  nests.  There  is  also  a 
Clonmel  near  Glasnevin,  Dublin,  and  another  in 
King's  County.  Clonmult,  the  meadow  of  the 
wethers,  is  the  name  of  a  village  and  parish  in 
Cork,  and  of  a  townland  in  Cavan. 

With  eloon  are  formed  Cloontuskert  in  Roscom- 
mon,  which  is  written  in  the  Annals  Cluain- 
tuaiscert,  the  northern  meadow  ;  Cloonlogher,  the 
name  of  a  parish  in  Leitrim,  Cluain-luachra,  the 
meadow  of  rushes ;  Cloonkeen,  a  very  common 
townland  name,  Cluain-caoin,  beautiful  meadow, 
which  is  also  very  often  anglicised  Clonkeen. 
Clonkeen  in  Gal  way  is  written  Cluain-cain-Cairill 
in  "  Hy  Many,"  from  Cairell,  a  primitive  Irish 
saint :  and  it  is  still  very  usually  called  Clonkeen- 
Kerrill.  Sometimes  the  word  is  in  composition 

236     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.    [PART.  11. 

pronounced  din,  as  we  see  in  Bracklin,  the  same 
as  Brackloon,  both  townland  names  of  frequent 
occurrence,  derived  from  Breac-chluain  (Four 
Mast.),  speckled  meadow ;  and  of  similar  forma- 
tion are  Mucklin,  Mucklone,  and  Muckloon,  pig 

Two  forms  of  the  diminutive  are  in  use  :  one 
Cluainin  [Clooneen],  occurs  in  the  Four  Masters, 
and  in  the  form  Clooneen  (little  meadow),  it  gives 
name  to  a  great  many  townlands,  chiefly  in  the 
west  of  Ireland.  The  other  diminutive,  Cluaintin, 
in  the  anglicised  form  Cloonteen,  is  the  name  of 
several  places  in  Connaught  and  Munster.  The 
plural  of  cluain  is  cluainte  [cloonty],  and  this  also 
enters  into  names.  It  is  sometimes  made  cloonta, 
as  in  Cloontabonniv  in  Clare,  the  meadows  of  the 
bonnives  or  young  pigs ;  Cloontakillew  and  Cloon- 
takilla  in  Mayo,  the  meadows  of  the  wood.  But 
it  is  much  oftener  made  Cloonty,  or  with  the 
double  plural  Cloonties ;  which  are  themselves  the 
names  of  several  places.  Occasionally  it  is  made 
clinty  in  Ulster,  as  in  Clinty  in  the  parish  of 
Kirkinriola  in  Antrim  ;  Clintycracken  in  Tyrone, 
Cluainte-croiceann,  the  meadows  of  the  skins,  so 
called  probably  from  being  used  as  a  place  for 

Tuar  [toor]  signifies  a  bleach -green ;  in  an  ex- 
tended sense  it  is  applied  to  any  place  where 
things  were  spread  out  to  dry,  and  very  often  to 
fields  along  small  streams,  the  articles  being 
washed  in  the  stream,  and  dried  on  its  banks ; 
nnd  it  was  sometimes  applied  to  spots  where  cattle 
used  to  feed  and  sleep.  The  word  is  used  in 
Munster,  Connaught,  and  Leinster,  but  does  not 
occur  at  all  in  the  Ulster  counties. 

Toor  is  the  almost  universal  anglicised  form 
and  this  and  Tooreen  or  Tourin  (little  bleach- 

CHAP,  vii.]       Agriculture  and  Pasturage.          237 

green)  are  the  names  of  more  than  sixty  town- 
lands  in  the  three  provinces  :  as  a  part  of  com- 
pounds, it  helps  to  give  names  to  a  still  larger 
number.  Toornageeha  in  Waterford  and  Kerry, 
signifies  the  bleach-green  of  the  wind  ;  Toorfune 
in  Tipperary,  fair  or  white- coloured  bleach- green ; 
Tooreennablauha  in  Kerry,  the  little  bleach-green 
of  the  flowers  (bldth)  ;  Tooreennagrena  in  Cork, 
sunny  little  bleach-green. 

It  occasionally  exhibits  other  forms  in  the 
Leinster  counties.  The  Irish  name  of  Ballitore, 
a  village  in  Kildare,  is  Bel-atha-a'-tuair  [Bella- 
toor],  the  ford-mouth  of  the  bleach-green,  and  it 
took  this  name  from  a  ford  on  the  river  Greece ; 
Monatore  (moin  a  bog)  occurs  in  Wicklow  and 
Kildare ;  Tintore  in  Queen's  County  is  in  Irish 
Tigh-an-tuair  [Teentoor],  the  house  of  the  bleach- 
green  ;  and  the  same  name  without  the  article 
becomes  Tithewer,  near  Newtownmountkennedy 
in  Wicklow. 

The  peasantry  in  most  parts  of  Ireland  use  a 
kind  of  double  axe  for  grubbing  or  rooting  up 
the  surface  of  coarse  land ;  it  is  called  a  grafdn 
[graffaun],  from  the  verb  graf,  to  write,  engrave, 
or  scrape,  cognate  with  Greek  grapho.  Lands 
that  have  been  grubbed  or  grafted  with  this  instru- 
ment have  in  many  cases  received  and  preserved 
names,  formed  on  the  verb  graf,  that  indicates 
the  operation.  This  is  the  origin  of  those  names 
that  begin  with  the  syllable  graf;  such  as  Graff  a, 
Graffan,  Graffee,  Graffoge,  Grafnn,  and  Graffy, 
which  are  found  in  the  four  provinces,  and  all  of 
which  signify  grubbed  land. 

Ploughing  by  the  horsetail,  and  burning  corn  in 
the  ear,  were  practised  in  Ireland  down  to  a  com- 
paratively recent  period ;  Arthur  Young  witnessed 
both  in  operation  less  than  a  hundred  years  ago  : 

238     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.      [PART  n. 

but  at  that  time  they  had  nearly  disappeared, 
partly  on  account  of  acts  of  Parliament  framed 
expressly  to  prevent  them,  and  partly  through 
the  increasing  intelligence  of  the  people.  Loisgredn 
[lusgraun]  is  the  term  applied  to  corn  burnt  in 
the  ear  ;  and  the  particular  spots  where  the  pro- 
cess was  carried  on  are  in  many  cases  indicated  by 
names  formed  on  this  word. 

The  modern  forms  do  not  in  general  depart 
much  from  what  would  be  indicated  by  the  origi- 
nal pronunciation ;  it  is  well  represented  in 
Knockaluskraun  and  Knockloskeraun  in  Clare, 
each  the  name  of  a  hill  (knock)  where  corn  used 
to  be  burned.  The  simple  term  gives  name  to 
Loskeran  near  Ardrnore  in  Waterford. 

Sometimes  the  word  is  pronounced  lustraun; 
and  this  form  is  seen  in  Caherlustraun  near  Tuam 
in  Galway,  where  the  corn  used  to  be  burned  in 
an  ancient  caher  or  stone  fort ;  in  Lugalustran  in 
Leitrim,  and  Stralustrin  in  Fermanagh,  the  hol- 
low, and  the  river  holm  of  the  burnt  corn. 

Land  burnt  in  any  way,  whether  by  accident  or 
design  for  agricultural  purposes — as,  for  instance, 
when  heath  was  burnt  to  encourage  the  growth  of 
grass,  as  noticed  by  Boate  (Nat.  Hist.  XIII.,  4) — 
was  designated  by  the  word  loisgthe  [luske], 
burnt ;  which  in  modern  names  is  usually  changed 
to  lusky,  losky,  or  lusk.  Ballylusky  and  Ballylusk, 
i.  e.  Baileloisgthe,  burnt  town,  are  the  names  of 
several  townlands,  the  former  being  found  in  the 
Munster  counties,  and  the  latter  in  Leinster ; 
while  it  is  made  Ballylosky  in  Donegal :  Molosky 
in  Clare,  signifies  burnt  plain: — Mo  =  magh,  a 

Sometimes  the  word  teotdn  [totaun],  a  burning, 
is  employed  to  express  the  game  thing,  as  in 
Knockatotaun  in  Mayo  and  Sligo,  Cnoc-a'-teotain, 

CHAP,  viz.]      Agriculture  and  Pasturage.          239 

the  hill  of  the  burning  :  Parkatotaun  in  Limerick, 
the  field  of  the  burning. 

It  was  formerly  customary  with  those  who  kept 
cattle  to  spend  a  great  part  of  the  summer 
wandering  about  with  their  herds  among  the 
mountain  pastures,  removing  from  place  to  place, 
as  the  grass  became  exhausted.  During  the 
winter  they  lived  in  their  lowland  villages,  and  as 
soon  as  they  had  tilled  a  spot  of  land  in  spring, 
they  removed  with  their  herds  to  the  mountains 
till  autumn,  when  they  returned  to  gather  the 
crops.  (See  2nd  Yol.  Chap.  xxvi.). 

The  mountain  habitations  where  they  lived,  fed 
their  cattle,  and  carried  on  their  dairy  operations 
during  the  summer,  were  called  in  Irish  buaile 
[boolyl,  a  word  evidently  derived  from  So,  a  cow. 
This  custom  existed  down  to  the  sixteenth  century ; 
and  the  poet  Spenser  describes  it  very  correctly, 
as  he  witnessed  it  in  his  day  : — "  There  is  one  use 
amongst  them,  to  keepe  their  cattle,  and  to  live 
themselves  the  most  part  of  the  yeare  in  boolies, 
pasturing  upon  the  mountaine,  and  waste  wilde 
places ;  and  removing  still  to  fresh  land,  as  they 
have  depastured  the  former  "  (View  of  the  State 
of  Ireland;  Dublin  edition,  1809,  p.  82). 
O'Flaherty  also  notices  the  same  custom : — "  In 
summer  time  they  drive  their  cattle  to  the 
mountaines,  where  such  as  looke  to  the  cattle  live 
in  small  cabbins  for  that  season  "  (lar-Connaught, 
c.  17).  The  term  booley  was  not  confined  to  the 
mountainous  districts  ;  for  in  some  parts  of  Ireland 
it  was  applied  to  any  place  where  cattle  were  fed 
or  milked,  or  which  was  set  apart  for  dairy 

Great  numbers  of  places  retain  the  names  of 
these  dairy  places,  and  the  word  buaile  is  gene- 
rally represented  in  modern  names  by  the  forms 

240     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.      [PART  n. 

Booley,  Boley,  Boola,  and  Boula,  which  are 
themselves  the  names  of  many  places,  and  form  the 
beginning  of  a  still  larger  number.  In  Boleylug 
near  Baltinglass  in  Wicklow,  they  must  have 
built  their  "  cabbins  "  for  shelter  in  the  lug  or 
mountain  hollow ;  Booladurragha  in  Cork,  and 
Booldurragh  in  Carlow,  dark  booley  (Buaile- 
dorcha],  probably  from  being  shaded  with  trees ; 
Booleyglass,  a  village  in  Kilkenny,  green  booley. 

The  word  is  combined  in  various  other  ways, 
and  it  assinnes  other  forms,  partly  by  corruption 
and  partly  by  grammatical  inflexion.  Farranboley 
near  Dundrum  in  Dublin,  is  booley  land ;  Augh- 
volyshane  in  the  parish  of  Glenkeen,  Tipperary, 
is  in  Irish  Ath-bhuaile-  Sheain,  the  ford  of  John's 
booley.  Ballyboley,  the  name  of  some  townlands 
in  Antrim  and  Down,  Ballyvooly  in  the  parish  of 
Layd,  Antrim,  and  Ballyvool  near  Inistioge,  Kil- 
kenny, are  all  different  forms  of  Baile-buaile,  the 
town  of  the  dairy  place ;  Ballynaboley,  Ballyna- 
boola,  and  Ballynabooley,  have  the  same  meaning, 
the  article  na  being  inserted ;  and  Boulabally 
near  Adare  in  Limerick,  is  the  same  name  with 
the  terms  reversed.  On  Ballyboley  hill  near  the 
source  of  the  Larne  water  in  Antrim,  there  are 
still  numerous  remains  of  the  old  "  cabbins,"  ex- 
tending for  two  miles  along  the  face  of  the  hill ; 
they  are  called  Boley  houses,  and  the  people  retain 
the  tradition  that  they  were  formerly  used  by  the 
inhabitants  of  the  valley  when  they  drove  up  their 
cattle  in  summer  to  pasture  on  the  heights  (see 
Reeves,  Eccl.  Ant.,  p.  268). 

The  diminutive  buailtin  [boolteen],  and  the 
plural  buailte  [boolty],  occur  occasionally :  Bool- 
teens  and  Boolteeny  (see  p.  32,  vi.),  in  Kerry  and 
Tipperary,  both  signify  little  dairy  places  ;  Boulty- 
patrick  in  Donegal,  Patrick's  booleYS- 

CHAP,  vm.]  Subdivisions  and  Measures  of  Land.  241 



AMONG  a  people  who  followed  the  double  occupa- 
tion of  tillage  and  pasturage,  according  as  the 
country  became  populated,  it  would  be  divided 
and  subdivided,  and  parcelled  out  among  the  peo- 
ple ;  boundaries  would  be  determined,  and 
standards  of  measurement  adopted.  The  follow- 
ing was  the  old  partition  of  the  country,  accord- 
ing to  Irish  authorities: — There  were  five  pro- 
vinces :  Leinster,  Ulster,  Connaught,  Munster, 
and  Meath,  each  of  which  was  divided  into  trlcha- 
cdds  (thirty  hundreds)  or  trichas,  Meath  contain- 
ing 18,  Connaught  30,  Ulster  36,  Leinster  31, 
and  Munster  70 ;  each  tricha  contained  30  baile- 
biataighs  (victualler's  town),  and  each  Baile-bia- 
tach,  12  seisreachs.  The  division  into  provinces  is 
still  retained  with  some  modification,  but  the  rest 
of  the  old  distribution  is  obsolete.  The  present 
subdivision  is  into  provinces,  counties,  baronies, 
parishes,  and  townlands  ;  in  all  Ireland  there  are 
325  baronies,  2,447  parishes,  and  about  64,000 
townlands.  Various  minor  subdivisions  and 
standards  of  measurement  were  adopted  in  different 
parts  of  the  country ;  and  so  far  as  these  are 
represented  in  our  present  nomenclature,  I  will 
notice  them  here.* 

The  old  term  tricha  or  triucha  [truha],  is  usually 

*  For  further  information  the  reader  is  referred  to  Dr. 
Reeves's  paper  "  On  the  Townland  Distribution  of  Ireland  ' 
(Proc.  R.  I.  Academy,  Vol.  VII.,  p.  473),  from  which  much  of 
the  information  in  this  chapter  has  been  derived ;  and  to  a 
paper  "  On  the  Territorial  Divisions  of  the  Country,"  by  Sir 
Thomas  Larcom,  prefixed  to  the  "Relief  Correspondence  of  th« 
Commissioners  of  i'ublic  Works." 

VOL.  i.  17 

242    Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

rendered  by  "cantred"  or  "district,"  and  we 
find  it  giving  name  to  the  barony  of  Trough  in 
Monaghan ;  to  the  townland  of  Trough  near 
O'Brien's  Bridge  in  Clare ;  and  to  True  in  the 
parish  of  Killyman  in  Tyrone.  Seisreach  [shesh- 
j-agh]  is  commonly  translated  "  ploughland  ;"  it  is 
said  to  be  derived  from  seisear,  six,  and  each,  a 
horse,  and  it  was  used  to  denote  the  extent  of  land 
a  six-horse  plough  would  turn  up  in  one  year. 
We  find  the  term  in  Shesheraghmore  and  Shesh- 
eraghscanlan  near  Borrisokane  in  Tipperary  ;  in 
Shesheraghkeale  (keale,  narrow)  near  Nenagh,  the 
same  name  as  Sistrakeel  (see  p.  60,  v.)  in  the 
parish  of  Tamlaght  Finlagan,  Derry ;  and  in 
Drumsastry  in  Fermanagh,  the  ridge  of  the  plow- 

The  terms  in  most  common  use  to  denote  portions 
of  land  or  territory  were  those  expressing  frac- 
tional parts,  of  which  there  are  five  that  occur 
very  frequently.  The  word  kath  [lah]  signifies 
half,  and  we  find  it  forming  part  of  names  all  over 
Ireland.  Thus  when  a  seisreach  was  divided  into 
two  equal  parts,  each  was  called  leath-sheisreach 
[lahesheragh],  half  plowland,  which  gives  name 
to  Lahesheragh  in  Kerry,  to  Lahesseragh  in  Tip- 
perary, and  to  Ballynalahessery  near  Dungarvan 
in  Waterf 01  d,  which  signifies  the  town  of  the  half- 
plowland.  In  like  manner,  half  a  townland  was 
denoted  by  the  term  Leath-bhaile,  pronounced,  and 
generally  anglicised,  Lavally  and  Levally,  which 
are  the  names  of  about  thirty  townlands  scattered 
through  the  four  provinces.  Laharan,  the  name 
of  many  places  in  Cork  and  Kerry,  signifies  lite- 
rally half  land,  Irish  Lcath-fhearann,  the  initial/ 
mfearann  (land)  being  rendered  silent  by  aspira- 
tion (see  p.  20). 

The  territory  of  Lecale  in  Down,  now  forming 

CHAP,  viii.]  Subdivisions  and  Measures  of  Land.  243 

two  baronies,  is  called  in  the  Irish  authorities 
Leth-Cathail,  Cathal's  half  or  portion.  Cathal 
[Cahal],  who  was  fifth  in  descent  from  Deman, 
king  of  Ulidia  in  the  middle  of  the  sixth  century, 
flourished  about  the  year  700  ;  and  in  a  division 
of  territory  this  district  was  assigned  to  him,  and 
took  his  name.  It  had  been  previously  called 
Magh-inis,  which  Colgan  translates  Insula  campes- 
tris,  the  level  island,  being  a  plain  tract  nearly 
surrounded  by  the  sea. 

Trian  [treen]  denotes  the  third  part  of  any- 
thing ;  it  was  formerly  a  territorial  designation 
in  frequent  use,  and  it  has  descended  to  the  pre- 
sent time  in  the  names  of  several  places.  A  tri- 
partite division  of  territory  in  Tipperary  gave 
origin  to  the  name  of  the  barony  of  Middle- 
third,  which  is  a  translation  from  the  Irish  Trian- 
meadhanach  [managh]  as  used  by  the  Four  Mas- 
ters. There  was  a  similar  division  in  "Waterford, 
and  two  of  the  three  parts — now  two  baronies — 
are  still  known  by  the  names  of  Middlethird  and 
Upperthird.  The  barony  of  Duffer  in  in  Down 
is  called  by  the  Four  Masters  Dubh-thrian  [Duv- 
reen],  the  black  third,  the  sound  of  which  is  very 
well  represented  in  the  present  name  ;  the  same 
as  Diffreen  in  Leitrim,  near  Glencar  lake. 

Trian  generally  takes  the  form  of  Trean  and 
Trien,  which  constitute  or  begin  the  names  of 
about  70  townlands  in  the  four  provinces.  Treana- 
mullin,  near  Stranorlar  in  Donegal,  signifies  the 
third  part  or  division  of  the  mill,  i.  e.  having  a 
mill  on  it ;  Treanf  ohanaun  in  Mayo,  the  thistle- 
producing  third  ;  Treanlaur  in  Galway  and  Mayo, 
middle  third ;  Treanmanagh  in  Clare,  Kerry,  and 
Limerick,  same  meaning  ;  Trienaltenagh  in  Lon- 
donderry, the  third  of  the  precipices  or  cliffs. 

Ceathramhadh    [carhoo  or  carrow]   signifies  a 

244     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  11. 

quarter,  from  ceathair  [cahir]  four.  The  old  town- 
lands  or  ballybetaghs,  were  very  often  divided 
into  quarters,  each  of  which  was  commonly  desig- 
nated by  this  word  ceathramhadh,  which,  in  the 
present  names  generally  takes  one  of  the  two 
forms  carrow,  and  carhoo ;  the  former  being  the 
more  usual,  but  the  latter  occurring  very  often  in 
Cork  and  Kerry.  Carrow  forms  or  begins  the 
names  of  more  than  700  townlands,  and  Carhoo 
of  about  30  ;  and  another  form,  Carrive,  occurs  in 
some  of  the  northern  counties. 

The  four  quarters  into  which  the  townland  was 
divided  were  generally  distinguished  from  one 
another  by  adjectives  descriptive  of  size,  position, 
shape,  or  quality  of  the  land,  or  by  suffixing  the 
names  of  the  occupiers.  Thus,  there  are  more 
than  60  modern  townlands  called  Carrowkeel, 
Ceathramhadh-cael,  narrow  quarter  ;  Carrowgarriff 
and  Carrowgarve,  rough  (garbh)  quarter,  is  the 
name  of  sixteen  ;  there  are  25  called  Carrowbane 
and  Carrowbaun,  white  quarter ;  24  called  Car- 
rowbeg,  little  quarter ;  and  more  than  60  called 
Carrowmore,  great  quarter.  Lecarrow,  half- 
quarter,  gives  name  to  about  60  townlands,  the 
greater  number  of  them  in  Connaught. 

A  fifth  part  is  denoted  by  coigeadh  [coga]  :  the 
application  of  this  term  to  land  is  very  ancient,  for 
in  the  old  form  coiced  it  occurs  in  the  Book  of 
Armagh,  where  it  is  translated  quinta  pars.  In 
later  times  it  was  often  used  in  the  sense  of 
"province,"  which  application  evidently  origi- 
nated in  the  division  of  Ireland  into  five  provinces. 
In  its  primitive  signification  of  a  fifth  part — pro- 
bably the  fifth  part  of  an  ancient  townland — 
has  given  names  to  several  places.  Cooga,  its 
most  usual  modern  form,  is  the  name  of  several 
townlands  in  Connaught  and  Munster  ;  there  are 

CHAP.  vin/J  Subdivisions  and  Measures  of  Land.  245 

three  townlands  in  Mayo  called  Coogue ;  and 
Coogaquid  in  Clare,  signifies  literally  "  fifth  part ;" 
— cuid,  a  part. 

Seiseadh  [shesha]  the  sixth  part ;  to  be  distin- 
guished from  seisreach.  As  a  measure  of  land,  it 
was  usual  in  Ulster  and  north  Connaught,  whore 
in  the  forms  Sess,  Sessia,  Sessiagh,  it  gives  namea 
to  about  thirty  townlands.  It  occurs  also  in 
Munster,  though  in  forms  slightly  different ;  as  in 
the  case  of  Sheshia  in  Clare,  and  Sheshiv  in 
Limerick ;  Shesharoe  in  Tipperary,  red  sixth ; 
Sheshodonnell  in  Clare,  O'Donnell's  sixth  part. 

Several  other  Irish  terms  were  employed  ;  such 
as  Ballyboe  or  "cow-land,"  which  prevailed  in  some 
of  the  Ulster  counties,  and  which  is  still  a  very 
common  townland  name  in  Donegal.  In  some  of 
the  counties  of  Munster,  they  had  in  use  a  measure 
called  gniomh  [gneeve],  which  was  the  twelfth 
part  of  a  plowland ;  and  this  term  occurs  occasiou- 
ally  in  the  other  provinces.  It  has  given  name  to 
about  twenty  townlands  now  called  Gneeve  and 
Gneeves,  the  greater  number  of  them  in  Cork  and 
Kerry.  There  is  a  place  in  the  parish  of  Kil- 
macabea,  Cork,  called  Three- gneeves ;  and  in  the 
same  county  there  are  two  townlands,  each  called 
Two- gneeves. 

In  many  parts  of  Ireland  the  Anglo-Norman 
settlers  introduced  terms  derived  from  their  own 
language,  and  several  of  these  are  now  very 
common  as  townland  names.  Cartron  signifies  a 
quarter,  and  is  derived  through  the  French  quar- 
teron  from  the  medioeval  Lat.  quarteronus  ;  it  was 
in  very  common  use  in  Connaught  as  well  as  in 
Longford,  Westmeath,  and  King's  County;  and 
it  was  applied  to  a  parcel  of  land  varying  in 
amount  from  60  to  160  acres.  There  are  about 
80  townlands  called  Cartron,  chiefly  in  Connaught, 

246     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

and  60  others  of  whose  names  it  forms  the  be- 
ginning. The  terms  with  which  it  is  compounded 
are  generally  Irish,  such  as  Cartronganny  near 
Mullingar,  Cartron- gainimh,  sandy  cartron;  Car- 
tronnagilta  in  Cavan,  the  cartron  of  the  reeds ; 
Cartronrathroe  in  Mayo,  the  cartron  of  the  red 

Tate  or  tath  appears  to  be  an  English  word,  and 
meant  60  native  Irish  acres.  It  occurs  chiefly  in 
Fermanagh,  Monaghan,  and  Tyrone,  generally  in 
the  forms  tat,  tatt,  and  tatty ;  and,  as  in  the  case 
of  cartron,  it  usually  compounds  with  Irish  words. 
Tattynageeragh  in  the  parish  of  Clones  in  Fer- 
managh, the  tate  of  the  sheep ;  Tattintlieve  in 
Monaghan,  the  tate  of  the  slieve  or  mountain. 

In  Cavan,  certain  measures  of  land  were  called 
by  the  names  poll,  gallon,  and  pottle.  Thus  Pol- 
lakeel  is  the  narrow  poll;  Pollamore,  great  poll, 
&c.  In  most  other  counties,  however,  poll  is  an 
Irish  word  signifying  a  hole.  Pottlebane  and 
Pottleboy  in  Cavan,  signify  white  and  yellow 
pottle,  respectively;  Gallonnambraher  the  friar's 
gallon,  &c. 



names  involving  numerical  combinations 
are  found  all  over  the  world,  a  careful  examina- 
tion would  be  pretty  sure  to  show  that  each  people 
had  a  predilection  for  one  or  more  particular  num- 
bers. During  my  examination  of  Irish  proper 
names,  I  have  often  been  struck  with  the  constant 

CHAP,  ix.]     Numerical  Combinations.  247 

recurrence  of  the  numbers  two  and  three;  and 
after  having  specially  investigated  the  subject,  I 
have  found,  as  I  hope  to  be  able  to  show,  that 
names  involving  these  two  numbers  are  so  numer- 
ous as  to  constitute  a  distinct  peculiarity,  and 
that  this  is  the  case  most  especially  with  regard 
to  the  number  two. 

I  never  saw  it  stated  that  the  number  two  was 
in  Ireland  considered  more  remarkable  than  any 
other;  but  from  whatever  cause  it  may  have 
arisen,  certain  it  is  that  there  existed  in  the 
minds  of  the  Irish  people  a  distinctly  marked 
predilection  to  designate  persons  or  places,  where 
circumstances  permitted  it,  by  epithets  expressive 
of  the  idea  of  duality,  the  epithet  being  founded 
on  some  circumstance  connected  with  the  object 
named  ;  and  such  circumstances  were  often  seized 
upon  to  form  a  name  in  preference  to  others 
equally  or  more  conspicuous.  We  have,  of  course, 
as  they  have  in  all  countries,  names  with  combi- 
nations of  other  numbers,  and  those  containing 
the  number  three  are  very  numerous ;  but  the 
number  two  is  met  with  many  times  more  fre- 
quently than  all  the  others  put  together. 

The  Irish  word  for  two  that  occurs  in  names  is 
da  or  dhd,  both  forms  being  used ;  da  is  pro- 
nounced daw ;  but  in  the  other  form,  dh,  which 
has  a  peculiar  and  rather  faint  guttural  sound,  is 
altogether  suppressed  in  modern  names ;  the  word 
dhd  being  generally  represented  by  the  vowel  a, 
while  in  many  cases  modern  contraction  has  obli- 
terated every  trace  of  a  representative  letter. 
It  is  necessary  to  bear  in  mind  that  da  or  dhd 
generally  causes  aspiration,  and  in  a  few  cases 
eclipses  consonants  and  prefixes  n  to  vowels  (see 
pp.  19  ind  21,  supra). 

We  find  names  involving  the  number  two  re- 

248       Historical  and  Legendary  Names.    [PART  IT. 

corded  in  Irish  history,  from  the  most  ancient 
authorities  down  to  the  MSS.  of  the  seventeenth 
century,  and  they  occur  in  proportion  quite  as 
numerously  as  at  the  present  day ;  showing  that 
this  curious  tendency  is  not  of  modern  origin,  but 
that  it  has  descended,  silent  and  unnoticed,  from 

of  the  most  remote  antiquity. 
There  is  a  village  and  parish  in  the  north-west 
of  Tipperary,  on  the  shore  of  Lough  Derg,  now 
called  Terryglass ;  its  Irish  name,  as  used  in 
many  Irish  authorities,  is  Tir-da-ghlas,  the  terri- 
tory of  the  two  streams  ;  and  the  identity  of  this 
with  the  modern  Terryglass  is  placed  beyond  all 
doubt  by  a  passage  in  the  "  Life  of  St.  Fin  tan  of 
Clonenagh,"  which  describes  Tir-da-glas  as  "in 
the  territory  of  Munster,  near  the  river  Shannon." 
The  great  antiquity  of  this  name  is  proved  by  the 
fact  that  it  is  mentioned  by  Adamnan  in  his 
"  Life  of  St.  Columba"  (Lib.  n.,  Cap.  xxxvi.), 
written  in  the  end  of  the  seventh  century;  but 
according  to  his  usual  custom,  instead  of  the 
Irish  name,  he  gives  the  Latin  equivalent :  in  the 
heading  of  the  chapter  it  is  called  Ager  duorum 
rivorum,  and  in  the  text  JKus  duum  rivulorum, 
either  of  which  is  a  correct  translation  of  Tir-da- 
ghlas*  There  is  a  subdivision  of  the  townland 
of  Clogher  in  the  parish  of  Kilnoe,  Clare,  called 
Terryglass,  which  has  the  same  Irish  form  and 
meaning  as  the  other. 

In  the  Book  of  Leinster  there  is  a  short  poem, 
ascribed  to  Finn  Mac  Cumhail,  accounting  for  the 
name  of  Magh-da-ghem,  in  Leinster,  the  plain  of 
the  two  swans;  and  the  Dinnsenchus  gives  a 
legend  about  the  name  of  the  river  Owendalulagh, 

*  See  Reeves's  Adamnan,  where  ager  duorum  rivorum  is 
jder^rfied  with  Terryglass. 

CHAP,  ix.]         Numerical  Combinations.  249 

which  rises  on  the  slope  of  Slieve  Aughty,  and 
flows  into  Lough  Cooter  near  Gort  in  Gralway. 
This  legend  states,  that  when  Echtghe  [Ekte] 
a  Dedannan  lady,  married  Fergus  Lusca,  cup- 
boarer  to  the  king  of  Connaught,  she  brought 
with  her  two  cows,  remarkable  for  their  milk- 
bearing  fruitfulness,  which  were  put  to  graze  on 
the  banks  of  this  stream  ;  and  from  this  circum- 
stance it  was  called  Abhainn-da-loilgheach,  the 
river  of  the  two  milch  cows.  According  to  the 
same  authority,  Slieve  Aughty  took  its  name  from 
this  lady — Sliabh- Echtghe,  Echtghe's  mountain. 
Several  other  instances  of  names  of  this  class, 
mentioned  in  ancient  authorities,  will  be  cited  as 
I  proceed.  This  word  loilgheach  appears  in  the 
name  of  a  lake  in  the  north  of  Armagh,  near  the 
south-west  corner  of  Lough  TsTeagh,  called  Derry- 
lileagh,  which  means  the  derry  or  oak-grove  of  the 
milch  cows. 

Though  this  peculiarity  is  not  so  common  in 
personal  as  in  local  names,  yet  the  number  of 
persons  mentioned  in  Irish  writings  whose  names 
involve  the  number  two,  is  sufficiently  large  to  be 
very  remarkable.  The  greater  number  of  these 
names  appear  to  be  agnomina,  which  described 
certain  peculiarities  of  the  individuals,  and  which 
were  imposed  for  the  sake  of  distinction,  after  a 
fashion  prevalent  among  most  nations  before  the 
institution  of  surnames.  (See  Vol.  II.,  Ch.  ix.). 

One  of  the  three  Collas  who  conquered  Ulster  in 
the  fourth  century  (see  p.  137)  was  called  Colla- 
da-Chrich,  Colla  of  the  two  territories.  Da-chrich 
was  a  favourite  sobriquet,  and  no  doubt,  in  case  of 
each  individual,  it  records  the  fact  of  his  connec- 
tion, either  by  possession  or  residence,  with  two 
countries  or  districts ;  in  case  of  Colla,  it  most 
probably  refers  to  two  territories  in  Ireland  and 

250      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

Scotland,  in  the  latter  of  which  he  lived  some 
years  in  a  state  of  banishment  before  his  invasion 
of  Ulster.  In  the  Martyrology  of  Donegal  there 
are  nine  different  persons  mentioned,  called  Fer- 
da-chrich,  the  man  of  the  two  territories. 

The  word  Dubh  applied  to  a  dark-visaged  per- 
son is  often  followed  by  da;  thus  the  Four 
Masters  mention  two  persons  named  Dubh-da- 
bharc,  the  black  (man)  of  the  two  ships ;  four, 
named  Dubh-da-chrich ;  eight,  Dubh-da-bhoireann 
(of  the  two  stony  districts  ?) ;  two,  Dubh-da-inbher, 
of  the  two  estuaries ;  one,  Dubh-da-ingean,  of  the 
two  daughters ;  four,  Dubh-da-leithe,  of  the  two 
sides  or  parties ;  and  two,  Dubh-da-thuath,  of  the 
two  districts  or  cantreds.  In  the  "Genealogy  of 
Corcaluidhe  "  we  find  Dubh-da-mhagh,  of  the  two 
plains;  and  in  the  Martyrology  of  Donegal 
Dubh-da-locha,  of  the  two  lakes. 

Fiacha  Muilleathan,  king  of  Munster  in  the 
third  century,  was  called  Fer-da-liach,  the  man  of 
the  two  sorrows,  because  his  mother  died  and  his 
father  was  killed  in  the  battle  of  Magh  Mucruimhe 
on  the  day  of  his  birth.  The  father  of  Maine 
Mor,  the  ancestor  of  the  Hy  Many,  was  Eochaidh, 
surnamed  Fer-da-ghiall,  the  man  of  the  two  hos- 
tages. Many  more  names  might  be  cited,  if  it 
were  necessary  to  extend  this  list ;  and  while  the 
number  two  is  so  common,  we  meet  with  few 
names  involving  any  other  number  except  three. 

It  is  very  natural  that  a  place  should  be  named 
from  two  prominent  objects  forming  part  of  it,  or 
in  connection  with  it,  and  names  of  this  kind  are 
occasionally  met  with  in  most  countries.  The 
fact  that  they  occur  in  Ireland  would  not  be  con- 
sidered remarkable,  were  it  not  for  these  two 
circumstances — first,  they  are,  beyond  all  compa- 
rison, more  numerous  than  could  be  reasonablv 

CHAP,  ix.]         Numerical  Combinations.  251 

expected ;  and  secondly,  the  word  da  is  usually 
expressed,  and  forms  part  of  the  names. 

Great  numbers  of  places  are  scattered  here  and 
there  through  the  country  whose  names  express 
position  between  two  physical  features,  such  as 
rivers,  mountains,  lakes,  &c.,  those  between  two 
rivers  being  the  most  numerous.  Killederdaowen 
in  the  parish  of  Duniry,  Galway,  is  called  in 
Irish,  Coill-eder-da-abhainn,  the  wood  between  two 
rivers  ;  and  Killadrown,  in  the  parish  of  Drum- 
cullen,  King's  County,  is  evidently  the  same  word 
shortened  by  local  corruption.  Dromderaown  in 
Cork,  and  Dromdiraowen  in  Kerry,  are  both 
modern  forms  of  Druim- dir-dhd-abhainn,  the  ridge 
between  two  rivers,  where  the  Irish  dhd  is  repre- 
sented by  a  in  the  present  names.  In  Cloone- 
derown,  Galway — the  meadow  between  two  rivers 
— there  is  no  representative  of  the  dha,  though  it 
exists  in  the  Irish  name ;  and  a  like  remark 
applies  to  Ballyederown  (the  townland  between 
two  rivers),  an  old  castle  situate  in  the  angle 
where  the  rivers  Funshion  and  Araglin  in  Cork 
mingle  their  waters.  Coracow  in  the  parish  of 
Killaha,  Kerry,  is  a  name  much  shortened  from 
its  original  Comhrac-dhd-abha,  the  meeting  of  the 
two  streams.  The  Four  Masters,  at  A.D.  528,  re- 
cord a  battle  fought  at  a  place  called  Luachair- 
mor-etir-da-inbhir,  the  large  rushy  place  between 
two  river  mouths,  otherwise  called  Ailbhe  or  Cluain- 
Ailbhe  (Ailbhe's  meadow),  now  Clonalvy  in  the 
county  Meath. 

With  glaise  (a  stream)  instead  of  abhainn,  we 
have  Ederdaglass,  the  name  of  two  townlands  in 
Fermanagh,  meaning  (a  place)  between  two  streams; 
and  Drumederglass  in  Cavan,  the  ridge  between 
two  streams.  Though  all  trace  of  da  is  lost  in 
this  name,  it  is  preserved  in  the  Down  Survey, 
where  the  place  is  called  Drumaderdaglass. 

"252      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n 

Ederdacurragh  in  Fermanagh,  means  (a  place) 
between  two  marshes ;  Aderavoher  in  Sligo,  is  in 
Irish  Eadar-dha-bhothair  (a  place)  between  two 
roads,  an  idea  that  is  otherwise  expressed  in 
Gouldavoher  near  Mungret,  Limerick,  the  fork  of 
the  two  roads.  Dromdiralough  in  Kerry,  the 
ridge  between  two  lakes,  and  Drumederalena  in 
Sligo,  the  ridge  between  the  two  lenas  or  meadows ; 
Inchideraille  near  Inchigeelagh,  is  in  Irish  Inis- 
idir-dha-fhdill,  the  island  or  river  holm  between 
two  cliffs ;  a  similar  position  has  given  name  to 
Derdaoil  or  Dariel,  a  little  village  in  the  parish  of 
Kilmastulla,  Tipperary,  which  is  shortened  from 
the  Irish  Idir-da-fhaill,  between  two  cliffs ;  Cloon- 
deravally  in  Sligo,  the  cloon  or  meadow  between 
the  two  bailies  or  townlands. 

Crockada  in  the  parish  of  Clones,  Fermanagh, 
is  only  a  part  of  the  Irish  name,  Cnoc-edar-da- 
ghreuch,  the  hill  between  the  two  marshy  flats ; 
and  the  true  form  of  the  present  name  would  be 
Knockadder.  Mogh,  the  name  of  a  townland  in 
the  parish  of  Rathlynin,  Tipperary,  is  also  an 
abbreviation  of  a  longer  name;  the  inhabitants 
call  it  Magh-idir-dha-abhainn,  the  plain  between 
two  rivers. 

The  well-known  old  church  of  Aghadoe,  near 
Killarney,  which  gives  name  to  a  parish,  is  called 
by  the  Four  Masters,  at  1581,  Achadh-da-eo,  the 
field  of  the  two  yew-trees,  which  must  have  been 
growing  near  each  other,  and  must  have  been 
sufficiently  large  and  remarkable  to  attract  general 
attention.  Part  of  the  townland  of  Drumharkan 
Glebe  in  the  parish  of  Cloone,  Leitrim,  is  called 
Cooldao,  the  back  of  the  two  yews.  In  the  town- 
land  of  Cornagee,  parish  of  KHlinagh,  Cavan,  there 
is  a  deep  cavern,  into  which  a  stream  sinks ;  it  is 
called  Polladaossan,  the  hole  of  the  two  dossans  or 

CHAP,  ix.]         Numerical  Combinations*  253 

Near  Crossmolina  in  Mayo,  is  a  townland  called 
Grlendavoolagh,  the  glen  of  the  two  boolies  or 
dairy  places.  In  the  parish  of  Killashee,  Long- 
ford, there  is  a  village  and  townland  called  Clooii- 
dara,  containing  the  ruins  of  what  was  once  an 
important  ecclesiastical  establishment ;  it  is  men- 
tioned by  the  Four  Masters  at  1323,  and  called 
Cluain-da-rath,  the  meadow  of  the  two  raths ;  and 
there  is  a  townland  of  the  same  name  in  the 
narish  of  Tisrara,  Roscommon. 

The  parish  of  Donagh  in  Monaghan,  takes  its 
name  from  an  old  church,  the  ruins  of  which  are 
still  to  be  seen  near  the  village  of  Glasslough; 
it  is  mentioned  twice  by  the  Four  Masters,  and  its 
full  name,  as  written  by  them,  is  Domhnach- 
maighe-da-chlaoine  [Donagh-moy-da-cleena],  the 
church  of  the  plain  of  the  two  slopes.  Dromda- 
league  or  Dromaleague,  the  name  of  a  village  and 
parish  in  Cork,  signifies  the  ridge  of  the  two 
stones.  Ballydehob  in  the  south  of  the  same 
county,  took  its  name  from  a  ford  which  is  called 
in  Irish  Bel-atha-da-chab,  the  ford  of  the  two  cabs 
or  mouths ;  the  two  mouths,  I  suppose,  describing 
some  peculiarity  of  shape. 

Several  places  derive  their  names  from  two 
plains ;  thus  Damma,  the  name  of  two  townlands 
in  Kilkenny,  is  simply  Da-mhagh  two  plains ; 
Rosdama  in  the  parish  of  Grange,  same  county, 
the  wood  of  the  two  plains.  That  part  of  the 
King's  County  now  occupied  by  the  baronies  of 
Warrenstown  and  Coolestown,  was  anciently 
called  Tuath-da-Mhaighe,  the  district  of  the  two 
plains,  by  which  name  it  is  frequently  mentioned 
in  the  annals,  and  which  is  sometimes  anglicised 
Tethmoy ;  the  remarkable  hill  of  Drumcaw, 
giving  name  to  a  townland  in  this  neighbourhood, 
was  anciently  called  Druim-di-mhaighe,  from  the 

254      Historical  and  LegencCary  Names.     [PART  n. 

same  district ;  and  we  find  Glendavagh,  the  glen 
)f  the  two  plains,  in  the  parish  of  Aghaloo, 

The  valley  of  Glendalough  in  Wicklow,  takes 
its  name  from  the  two  lakes  so  well  known  to 
tourists ;  it  is  called  in  Irish  authorities  Gleann- 
da-locha,  which  the  author  of  the  Life  of  St.  Kevin 
translates  "  the  valley  of  the  two  lakes ;  "  and 
other  glens  of  the  same  name  in  Waterford,  Kerry, 
and  Galway,  are  also  so  called  from  two  lakes  near 
each  other.  There  is  an  island  in  the  Shannon, 
in  the  parish  of  Killadysert,  Clare,  called  Inish- 
dadroum,  which  is  mentioned  in  the  "  Wars  of 
GG."  by  the  name  of  Inis-da-dromand,  the  island 
of  the  two  drums  or  backs,  from  its  shape  :  and  a 
similar  peculiarity  of  form  has  given  name  to 
Inishdavar  in  the  parish  of  Derryvullan,  Ferma- 
nagh (of  the  two  barrs  or  tops) ;  to  Cornadarum, 
Fermanagh,  the  round  hill  of  the  two  drums  or 
ridges ;  and  to  Corradeverrid  in  Cavan,  the  hill  of 
the  two  caps  (barred}.  Tuam  in  Galway  is  called 
in  the  annals  Tuaim-da-ghualann,  the  tumulus  of 
the  two  shoulders,  evidently  from  the  shape  of  the 
ancient  sepulchral  mound  from  which  the  place 
has  its  name. 

Desertcreat,  a  townland  giving  name  to  a  parish 
in  Tyrone,  is  mentioned  by  the  Four  Masters  as 
the  scene  of  a  battle  between  the  O'Neills  and  the 
O'Donnells,  in  A.  D.  1281,  and  it  is  called  by  them 
Diseart-da-chrioch,  the  desert  or  hermitage  of  the 
two  territories ;  they  mention  also  a  place  called 
Magh-da-chairneach,  the  plain  of  the  two  earns ; 
Magh-da-ghabhal,  the  plain  of  the  two  forks; 
Ailiun-da-bhernach,  the  island  of  the  two  gaps ; 
Magh-da-Chainncach,  the  plain  of  the  two  Cain- 
neachs  (men).  The  district  between  Lough  Cong 
and  the  river  Moy  was  anciently  called  An  Da 

CHAP,  ix.]       Numerical  Combinations.  255 

Bhac,  the  two  bends,  under  which,  name  it  is  fre- 
quently mentioned  in  the  annals. 

There  is  a  townland  in  the  parish  of  Rossinver, 
Leitrim,  called  Lisdarush,  the  fort  of  the  two 
promontories  ;  on  the  side  of  Hungry  Hill,  west  of 
Glengarriff  in  Cork,  is  a  small  lake  which  is  called 
Coomadavallig,  the  hollow  of  the  two  roads ;  in 
Roscommon  we  find  Cloondacarra,  the  meadow  of 
the  two  weirs ;  the  Four  Masters  mention  Clar- 
atha-da-charadh,  the  plain  (or  footboard)  of  the 
ford  of  the  two  weirs  ;  and  Charlemont  in  Tyrone 
was  anciently  called  Achadh-an-da-charadh*  the 
field  of  the  two  weirs.  Gubbacrock  in  the 
parish  of  Killesher,  Fermanagh,  is  written  in 
Irish  Gob-dha-chnoc,  the  beak  or  point  of  the  two 

Dundareirke  is  the  name  of  an  ancient  castle  in 
Cork,  built  by  the  Mac  Carthys,  signifying  the 
fortress  of  the  two  prospects  (Dun-da-radharc) , 
and  the  name  is  very  suitable ;  for,  according  to 
Smith,  "  it  is  on  a  hill  and  commands  a  vast  ex- 
tended view  as  far  as  Kerry,  and  east  almost  to 
Cork  ;  "  there  is  a  townland  of  the  same  name  in 
the  parish  of  Danesfort,  Kilkenny,  printed  in  the 
Ordnance  Maps  Dundaryark,  but  locally  pro- 
nounced Dundarerk :  and  the  old  dun  does  actually 
command  two  wide  views. 

The  preceding  names  were  derived  from  con- 
spicuous physical  features,  and  their  origin  is 
therefore  natural  enough,  so  far  as  each  individual 
name  is  concerned ;  their  great  number,  as  already 
remarked,  is  what  gives  them  significance.  But 
those  I  am  now  about  to  bring  forward  admit  in 
general  of  no  such  explanation,  and  appear  to  me 
to  prove  still  more  conclusively  the  existence  of 
this  remarkable  disposition  in  the  minds  of  the 
people,  to  look  out  for  groups  of  two.  Here  also, 

256      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.    [PART  n. 

as  in  the  preceding  class,  names  crowd  upon  us 
with  remarkable  frequency,  both  in  ancient  au- 
thorities and  in  the  modern  list  of  townlands. 

Great  numbers  of  places  have  been  named  from 
two  animals  of  some  kind.  If  we  are  to  explain 
these  names  from  natural  occurrences,  we  must 
believe  that  the  places  were  so  called  because  they 
were  the  favourite  haunt  of  the  two  animals  com- 
memorated ;  but  it  is  very  strange  that  so  many 
places  should  be  named  from  just  two,  while  there 
are  very  few  from  one,  three,  or  any  other  number — 
except  in  the  general  way  of  a  genitive  singular 
or  a  genitive  plural.  Possibly  it  may  be  explained 
to  some  extent  by  the  natural  pairing  of  male  and 
female ;  but  this  will  not  explain  all,  nor  even  a 
considerable  part,  as  anyone  may  see  from  tha 
illustrations  that  follow.  I  believe  that  most  or 
all  of  these  names  have  their  origin  in  legends 
or  superstitions,  and  that  the  two  animals  were 
very  often  supernatural,  viz.,  fairies  or  ghosts,  oi 
human  beings  transformed  by  Dedannan  enchant- 

We  very  frequently  meet  with  two  birds — da- en. 
A  portion  of  the  Shannon  near  Clonmacnoise  was 
anciently  called  Snamh-da-e'n  [Snauv-da-ain],  the 
mauv  or  swimming-ford  of  the  two  birds.  The 
parish  of  Duneane  in  Antrim  has  got  its  present 
name  by  a  slight  contraction  from  Dun-da-en,  the 
fortress  of  the  two  birds,  which  is  its  name  in  the 
Irish  authorities,  among  others,  the  Felire  of 
Aengus.  There  is  a  mountain  stretching  between 
Lough  Gill  and  Collooney,  Sligo,  which  the  Four 
Masters  mention  at  1196  by  the  name  of  Sliabh- 
dd-en,  the  mountain  of  the  two  birds,  now  called 
Slieve  Daeane ;  it  is  curious  that  a  lake  on  the 
north  side  of  the  same  mountain  is  called  Lough 
Dagea,  the  lake  of  the  two  geese,  which  are 

CHAP.  ix.J      Numerical  Combinations.  257 

probably  the  two  birds  that  gave  name  to  the 
mountain.  There  is  a  townland  in  the  parish  of 
Kinawly,  Fermanagh,  called  Rossdanean,  the 
peninsula  of  two  birds;  Balladian  near  Bally 
bay  in  Monaghan,  is  correctly  Bealach-a* '-da-em 
(bealach,  a  pass) ;  and  Colgan  (A.  SS.,  p.  42, 
note  9)  mentions  a  place  near  Lough  Nea^h, 
called  Cluain-dd-en,  the  meadow  of  the  twu 

Two  birds  of  a  particular  kind  have  also  given 
their  names  to  several  places,  and  among  these, 
two  ravens  seem  to  be  favourites.  In  the  parish 
of  Kinawly,  Fermanagh,  is  a  townland  called 
Aghindaiagh,  in  Irish  Achadh-an-da-fhiach,  the 
field  of  the  two  ravens ;  in  the  townland  of  Kil- 
colman,  parish  of  same  name,  Kerry,  is  a  pit  or 
cavern  called  Poll-da-fhiach,  the  hole  of  the  two 
ravens ;  we  find  in  Cavan,  Neddaiagh,  the  nest  of 
the  two  ravens ;  in  Gralway,  Cuilleendaeagh,  and 
in  Kerry  Grlandaeagh,  the  little  wood,  and  the 
glen  of  the  two  ravens.  The  parish  of  Balteagh 
in  Down  is  sometimes  written  in  old  documents, 
Ballydaigh,  and  sometimes  Boydafeigh,  pointing 
to  Baik-da-fhiach  or  Both-da-fhiach  (this  last  form 
is  used  in  O'Clery's  Cal.),  the  town  or  the  hut  of  the 
two  ravens  "  preserving  the  tradition  that  two 
ravens  flew  away  with  the  plumb-line  from  the 
cemetery  Rellick  in  the  townland  of  Kilhoyle, 
where  the  parishioners  were  about  to  erect  their 
church,  to  Ardmore,  the  townland  where  the  site 
was  at  length  fixed  "(Reeves:  Colt.  Vis.  133).  With 
Branog,  another  name  for  the  same  bird,  we  have 
Brannock  Island,  near  Great  Aran  Island,  Galway 
Bay,  which  is  called  in  Irish  Oilean-da-bhranog 
(O'Flaherty,  lar  Connaught),  the  island  of  the  two 
ravens.  Aghadachor  in  Donegal,  means  the  field 
of  the  two  herous  or  cranes.  There  is  a  townland 


258     Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

in  the  parish  of  Killinvoy,  Roscommon,  whose 
name  is  improperly  anglicised  Lisdaulan ;  the 
Four  Masters  at  1380,  call  it  Lios  da- Ion,  the  fort 
of  the  two  blackbirds. 

Several  places  get  their  names  from  two  hounds ; 
such  as  Moyacomb  in  Wicklow  (see  p.  52) ;  Cahir- 
acon,  two  townlands  in  Clare,  which  are  called  to 
this  day  in  Irish  Cathair-dha-chon,  the  caher  or 
ptone  fortress  of  the  two  hounds  ;  and  Lisdachon 
in  Westmeath.  In  the  parish  of  Devenish,  Fer- 
managh, there  are  two  conterminous  townlands 
called  Big  Dog  and  Little  Dog ;  these  singular 
appellations  derive  their  origin  from  the  modern 
division  into  two  unequal  parts,  of  an  ancient 
tract  which  is  called  in  the  annals,  Sliabh-da- 
chon,  the  mountain  of  the  two  hounds.  We  find 
also  Cloondacon  in  Mayo,  the  meadow  of  the  two 

In  several  other  places  we  have  two  oxen  com- 
memorated, as  in  Cloondadauv  in  Gralway,  which 
the  annalists  write  Cluain-dd-damh,  the  meadow  of 
the  two  oxen  ;  Rossdagamph  in  Fermanagh,  and 
Aughadanove,  Armagh,  the  promontory  and  the 
field  of  the  two  oxen ;  in  the  first,  d  is  changed  to 
g  (see  p.  56),  and  in  the  second,  da  prefixes  n  to 
the  vowel.  At  the  year  606,  the  Four  Masters 
mention  a  lake  in  which  a  crannoge  was  built, 
situated  in  Oriel,  but  not  now  known,  called  Loch- 
da-damh,  the  lake  of  the  two  oxen. 

Two  bucks  are  commemorated  in  such  names  as 
Ballydavock,  Cappadavock,  Glendavock,  Lisda- 
vock  (town,  plot,  glen,  fort),  and  Attidavock,  the 
site  of  the  house  of  the  two  bucks.  The  parish  of 
Clonyhurk  in  .King's  County,  containing  the  town 
of  Portarlington,  takes  its  name  from  a  townland 
which  the  Four  Masters  call  Cluain-da-thorc,  the 
meadow  of  the  two  bo»rs ;  Glendahurk  in  Mayo  is 

CHAP,  ix.]       Numerical  Combinations.  258 

the   glen  of  the   two   boars;  and  Lisdavuck   in 
King's  County,  the  fort  of  the  two  pigs   (muc,  a 

Cloondanagh  in  Clare  is  in  Irish  Cluain-da- 
neach,  the  meadow  of  the  two  horses  ;  we  find  the 
same  two  animals  in  Tullyloughdaugh  in  Ferma- 
nagh, and  Aghadaugh  in  Westmeath  ;  the  second 
meaning  the  field,  and  the  first  the  hill  of  the 
lake  of  the  two  horses;  and  Clondelara,  near 
Clonmacnoise,  is  the  meadow  of  the  two  mares. 
Clondalee  in  the  parish  of  Killyon,  Meath,  is 
called  in  Irish  Cluain-da-  laegh,  the  meadow  of  the 
two  calves.  Aghadavoyle  in  Armagh  is  the  field 
of  the  two  niaels,  or  hornless  cows  ;  two  animals 
of  the  same  kind  have  given  name  to  a  little  island 
in  Mayo,  viz.,  Inishdaweel,  while  we  have  two 
yellow  cows  in  Inishdauwee,  the  name  of  tw 
townlands  in  Gralway. 

There  is  a  legend  concerning  the  origin  of  Clon- 
dagad  in  Clare,  the  cloon  of  the  two  gads  or 
withes,  and  another  accounting  for  the  nane  Z)t»n- 
da-kth-glas,  anciently  applied  to  the  great  rath  at 
Downpatrick,  the  fortress  of  the  two  broken  locks 
or  fetters.  The  two  remarkable  mountains  in 
Kerry  now  called  the  Paps,  were  anciently  called, 
and  are  still,  in  Irish,  Da-chich-Danainne  [Da-kee- 
Dannina],  the  two  paps  of  Danann  (see  p.  164)  ; 
and  the  plain  on  which  they  stand  is  called  Bun- 
a'-da-chich,  the  bottom  or  foundation  of  the  two 
Paps;  Drumahaire,  the  name  of  a  village  in 
Leitrim,  signifies  the  ridge  of  the  two  air-  spirits 
or  demons  'vseep.  194). 

In  this  great  diversity  it  must  be  supposed  that 
two  persons  would  find  a  place  ;  and  accordingly 
we  find  Kildaree,  the  church  of  the  two  king--, 
the  name  of  two  townlands  in  Galway  (for  w^ich 
see  Sir  William  Wilde'..  "  Lough  Corrci«  "'•.  and 

260         Historical  and  Legendary  Names.  [PARTII 

of  another  near  Crossmolina,  Mayo.  There  is  a 
fort  one  mile  south  of  the  village  of  Killoscully, 
Tipperary,  called  Lisdavraher,  the  fort  of  the  two 
friars  ;  and  there  is  another  of  the  same  name  in 
the  south  of  Ballymoylan  townland,  parish  of 
Youghalarra,  in  the  same  county.  In  both  these 
cases  the  friars  were  probably  ghosts. 

There  is  a  parish  called  Toomore  in  the  county 
of  Mayo,  taking  its  name  from  an  old  church 
standing  near  the  river  Moy  ;  it  is  also  the  name 
of  a  townland  in  the  parish  of  Aughrim,  Roscom- 
mon,  and  of  a  townland  and  -parish  in  Sligo. 
This  is  a  very  curious  and  a  very  ancient  name. 
Toomore  in  Mayo  is  written  Tuaim-da-bhodhar  by 
Duald  Mac  Firbis  and  the  Four  Masters ;  and 
Tuaim-da-bhodar  in  a  poem  in  the  "Book  of 
Lecan."  The  pronunciation  of  the  original  ia 
Tooma-our,  which  easily  sank  into  Toomore  ;  and 
the  name  signifies  the  tomb  of  the  two  deaf 
persons ;  but  who  they  were,  neither  history  nor 
tradition  records. 

The  memory  of  the  two  venerable  people  who 
gave  name  to  Cordalea  in  the  parish  of  Kilmore, 
Cavan,  has  quite  perished  from  the  face  of  the 
earth,  except  only  so  far  as  it  is  preserved  in  the 
name  Coa-da-liath,  the  hill  of  the  two  grey  per- 
sons. Two  people  of  a  different  complexion  are 
commemorated  in  Glendaduff  in  Mayo,  the  glen 
of  the  two  black-visaged  persons.  Meendacal- 
liagh  in  the  parish  of  Lower  Fahan,  Donegal, 
means  the  meen  or  mountain  flat  of  the  two  cal- 
liaghs  or  hags,  probably  a  pair  of  those  old  witches 
who  used  to  turn  themselves,  on  Good  Friday, 
into  hares,  and  suck  the  cows. 

It  must  occur  to  anyone  who  glances  through 
these  names  to  ask  himself  the  question — what 
was  the  origin  of  this  curious  custom  ?  I  cannot 

CHAP,  ix.]       Numerical  Combinations.  261 

believe  that  it  is  a  mere  accident  of  language,  or 
that  it  sprang  up  spontaneously  without  any 
particular  cause.  I  confess  myself  wholly  in  the 
dark,  unable  to  offer  any  explanation :  I  have 
never  met  anything  that  I  can  call  to  mind  in  the 
whole  range  of  Irish  literature  tending  in  the 
least  degree  to  elucidate  it.  Is  it  the  remnant  of 
some  ancient  religious  belief,  or  some  dark  super- 
stition, dispelled  by  the  light  of  Christianity  ?  or 
does  it  commemorate  some  widespread  social 
custom,  prevailing  in  time  beyond  the  reach  of 
history  or  tradition,  leaving  its  track  on  the 
language  as  the  only  manifestation  of  its  existence  ? 
We  know  that  among  some  nations  certain  num- 
bers were  accounted  sacred,  like  the  number  seven 
among  the  Hebrews.  "Was  two  a  sacred  number 
with  the  primitive  people  of  this  country  ?  I  re- 
frain from  all  conjecture,  though  the  subject  is 
sufficiently  tempting ;  I  give  the  facts,  and  leave 
to  others  the  task  of  accounting  for  them. 

The  number  three  occurs  also  with  remarkable 
frequency  in  Irish  proper  names,  so  much  so  that 
it  would  incline  one  to  believe  that  the  Irish  had 
a  predilection  for  grouping  things  in  triads  like 
Welsh.  Dr.  Reeves  has  observed  that  the  old 
chroniclers  often  enumerate  rivers  in  threes  ;  such 
as  the  three  Uinseanns  ;  the  three  Sucks ;  the  three 
Finns ;  the  three  Coimdes ;  the  three  rivers,  Sibir, 
Feil,  and  Ercre ;  the  three,  Fleasc,  Mand,  and 
Labhrann  ;  the  three  black  rivers,  Fubhna,  Torann 
and  Callann ;  the  nine  Brosnachs  (3  x  3) ;  the 
nine  Righes,  &c. — all  these  taken  from  the  Four 

Mr.  Hennessy  has  directed  my  attention  to  a 
great  number  of  triple  combinations ;  such  as  the 
three  Tuathas  or  districts  in  Connaught ;  the 
places  called  three  castles  in  Kilkenny  and  Wick- 

262     H*tonc*I  m*d  tegcmimnj  Nemo.     [PAKT  u. 

icnr  ;  Hemntc-tri-csrbaJ  the  gap  of  the  three 
lhaiiiiti.  a  place  in  the  county  Clare  ;  the  earn  of 
the  Ane  uujuui  at  domnaauMse  ;  several  place* 
called  three  plains  ;  three  Connanghts  ;  and  many 
He  has  also  given  me  a  long  Hat,  taken 

Om  qu^ur*  ~ 

of  the  diree  firtnes,    a  **»gBM"i^*  of 
Canary  More),  which  would  enable  me  to  extend 

•••a  enaiBezation  of  tnnacBB  much  fti^jtff  i  lint  aa 
-  .  -  --  -  - 

I  ant  at  present  concemed  only  about  iocsi  BM'""*t 
I  shall  eontentamyaelf  with  simply  noting  Hie  iaot 
that  names  of  this  kind  occur  in  great  numbers  in 
oar  old  writings. 

Many  of  these  combinations  were  no  doubt 
adopted  in  GSbristisja  times  in  honour  of  the  Trinity, 
of  which  the  name  Treret  (see  p.  133)  i*  an  ex- 
ample ;  and  it  is  probable  that  the  knowledge  of 
tins  mjateij  diaposnd  men's  minds  to  notice  more 
readily  conuHi>ations  ox  three,  and  to  cive  names 

according}?  y  eren  in   eases  where  no  direct  re* 
fcrenae  to  die  Trinity  was  intended. 

We  learn  die  origin  of  Dnntryleagne 
GaibaHy  in  Lhwrirk,  from  a  passage  in  die  Book 
of  Lismore,  which  states  *****  "  Connae  Gas  v^ing 
•A  Manster),  son  of  OflioL  Olom  (see  p.  134, 
Kfrm)  favght  the  bailie  of  Knoeboona  (near 
F-V  •.':-.--:/  ar^i-r  Eo:iv  AammAnaA  "Ohy- 
A  vnroo],  king  of  Ulster,  in  which  Eochy  was 
•lain;  and  Gormac  was  wounded  (in  die  head},  so 
tha*  he  was  three  yean  under  core,  with  his  brain 
firat!ninnTlj  flowing  from  his  head."  Then  a 
goodly  d*m  was  cocsfimcted  for  him,  "haringin 
the  »»i«m»  a  bfmitifql  clear  spang,  and  a  great 
royal  boose  was  bnflt  orer  die  well,  and  three 
Sfgnmt  (pillar  stones)  were  placed  round  it,  on 
which  was  laid  the  bed  of  the  king,  so  that  his 

CHAP,  n.]     Numerical  Combmmtio**, 

head  was  in  the  middk  between  the  tiiree  pillars. 
And  one  of  his  ^*tnrfrntft  stood  ••••^-••••IY  by 
him  with  a  cop,  pouring  <J*»  wafer  of  ****>  well  o& 
his  head.  He  died  there  after  that,  «*d  was 
buried  in  a  cave  within  the  don ;  and  from  tins  is 
(derived j  the  name  of  the  place,  I*t*-tri-ti*f,  the 
fortress  of  the  three  pillar  stones.* 

The  erection  of  three  stone*  like  those  at  Dnn- 
lijsMfJSU  most  have  been  nsoaL,  for  we  find 
•••us!  names  containing  the  compound  tri  fisy, 
three  pillar  stones.  It  ocean  simply  in  the  form 
of  Trilliek,  as  the  name  of  a  village  in  Tyrone, 
and  of  two  townlands,  one  in  Donegal  and  the 
other  in  Fermanagh.  In  the  parish  of  Battynnv 
connick,  Long&vd,  there  are  two  townlands  called 
respectively,  Trillickacarry  and  TrOliekatemple, 
the  trittid:  or  three  stones  of  the  marsh,  and  of 
the  church.  Xear  Dromore  in  Down,  we  find 
Edentrillick,  and  in  the  parish  of  Tvnan.  Armagh, 
RathtrflHck,  the  first  the  hill  brow,  and  the  second 
the  fort,  of  the  three  pillar  stones. 

Several  places  take  their  names  from  three 
persons,  who  were  probably  joint  occupiers.  In 
the  parish  of  Kilbride,  Heath,  fhere  is  a  town- 
land  called  Ballintry,  B*&-*M-tn,  the  town  oi 
the  three  (persons).  The  more  usual  word  em- 
ployed in  this  case,  however,  is  friar  [troorl, 
which  means,  not  three  in  tie  abstract,  bat  HBUB 
persons;  and  it  is  not  improbable  that  in  the  last- 
mentioned  name,  a  final  r  has  been  lost.  BaDrn- 
linii  in  the  parish  of  Donaghmore,  Wkklow, 
has  the  same  meaning  as  Baflintrv.  In  the  parish 
of  Eamoan.  Antrim,  is  a  hfll  called  Carntzoor, 
where  three  persons  most  have  been  buried  under 
(  earn  :  and  in  the  parish  of  Templecorran,  sante 
couaiy,  is  another  hill  called  Stieveatzue.  whk> 

264      Historical  and  Legendary  Names.     [PART  n. 

name  appears  to  be  a  corruption  from  Slieveatroor, 
the  mountain  of  the  three  persons. 

Cavantreeduff  in  the  parish  of  Cleenish,  Fer- 
managh, has  probably  some  legendary  story  con- 
nected with  it,  fh«  Irish  name  being  Cabhan-tri- 
damh,  the  round  hill  of  the  three  oxen.  The 
celebrated  castle  of  Portnatrynod  at  Lifford,  of 
which  the  name  is  now  forgotten,  and  even  its 
very  site  unknown,  is  repeatedly  mentioned  in  the 
Annals,  and  always  called  Port-na-dtri-namhad 
[Portnadreenaud],  the  port  or  bank  of  the  three 
enemies;  who  these  three  hostile  persons  were, 
history  does  not  tell,  though  the  people  of  Lifford 
iiave  a  legend  about  them. 

There  is  a  place  in  the  parish  of  Gartan,  Done- 
gal, called  Bunnatreesruhan,  the  mouth  of  the 
three  streamlets.  A  fort  with  three  circumvalla- 
tions  is  often  called  Lisnatreeclee,  or  more  cor- 
rectly Lisnadreeglee,  i.  e.  in  Irish,  Lios-na-dtri- 
gcladh,  the  Us  of  the  three  mounds.  Ballytober 
in  the  Glens  of  Antrim  is  a  shortened  form  of  the 
correct  Irish  name,  Baik-na-dtri-dtobar,  the  town 
of  the  three  springs. 

We  find  occasionally  other  numbers  also  in 
names.  At  the  year  872,  the  Four  Masters 
mention  a  place  called  Rath-aen-bo,  the  fort  of  the 
one  cow.  There  is  a  place  of  this  name,  now 
called  Raheanbo,  in  the  parish  of  Churchtown, 
Westmeath,  but  whether  it  is  the  Rath-aen-bo  of 
the  annals  is  uncertain.  In  the  parish  of  Maghe- 
ross,  Monaghan,  is  a  townland  called  Corrinenty, 
in  Irish  Cor-an-aen-tighe,  the  round  hill  of  the 
one  house ;  and  Boleyneendorrish  is  the  name  of 
a  place  near  Ardrahan,  Galway,  signifying  the 
booty  or  dairy-place  of  the  one  door.  The  island 
of  Inchenagh  in  the  north  end  of  Lough  Eee, 
near  Lanesborough,  is  called  by  the  Four  Masters, 

CHAP,  ix.]     Numerical  Combinations.  265 

Inis-en-daimh,  the  island  of  the  one  ox.  In  the 
parish  of  Rathronan,  Limerick,  is  a  townland 
called  Kerrykyle,  Ceithre-choill,  four  woods.  A 
townland  in  the  parish  of  Tulla,  Clare,  is  called 
Derrykeadgran,  the  oak-wood  of  the  hundred 
trees ;  and  there  is  a  parish  in  Kilkenny  called 
Tullahaught,  or  in  Irish  Tulach-ocht,  the  hill  of 
the  eight  (persons). 





EFOEE  the  introduction  of  Christia- 
nity, buildings  of  all  the  various 
kinds  erected  in  Ireland,  whe- 
ther domestic,  military,  or  se- 
pulchral, were  round,  or 
nearly  round,  in  shape. 
This  is  sufficiently  pro- 
ved by  the  numerous  forts  and 
mounds  that  still  remain  all 
over  the  country,  and  which 
are  almost  universally  circular. 
We  find,  moreover,  in  our  old 
manuscripts,  many  passages  in  which  the  strong- 
holds of  the  chiefs  are  described  as  of  this  shape  ; 
and  in  the  ancient  Life  of  St.  Patrick  written  by 
St.  Evin,  there  is  an  Irish  stanza  quoted  as  the 
composition  of  a  druid  named  Con,  in  which  it  is 
predicted,  that  the  custom  of  building  houses 
narrow  and  quadrangular  would  be  introauced 
among  other  innovations  by  St.  Patrick. 

CHAP  ,  i.]        Habitations  and  Fortresses.  267 

The  domestic  and  military  structures  in  use 
among  the  ancient  Irish  were  denoted  by  the 
words  Uo8y  rath,  dun,  cathair,  brugh,  &c. ;  and  these 
terms  are  still  in  use  and  applied  to  the  very  same 
objects.  A  notion  very  generally  prevails,  though 
much  less  so  now  than  formerly,  that  the  circular 
forts  which  still  exist  in  great  numbers  in  every 
county  in  Ireland,  were  erected  by  the  Danes; 
and  they  are  hence  very  often  called  "Danish 
raths."  It  is  difficult  to  trace  the  origin  of  this 
opinion,  unless  we  ascribe  it  to  the  well-known 
tendency  of  the  peasantry  to  attribute  almost 
every  remarkable  ancient  work  to  the  Danes. 
These  people  had,  of  course,  fortresses  of  some 
kind  in  the  maritime  towns  where  they  were 
settled,  such  as  Dublin,  Limerick,  Waterford  Do- 
negal, &c.  In  the  "Wars  of  GG."  (p.  41),  we 
are  told  that  they  "  spread  themselves  over  Mun- 
ster  and  they  built  duns  and  daingeans  (strong- 
holds) and  caladh-phorts "  (landing  ports) ;  the 
Chronicon  Scotorum  at  the  year  845,  records  the 
erection  of  a  dun  at  Lough  Ree,  by  the  Danish 
king  Turgesius,  from  which  he  plundered  Con- 
naught  and  Meath;  and  it  is  not  unlikely  that 
the  Danes  may  have  taken,  and  for  a  long  time 
occupied,  some  of  the  strongholds  they  found  in 
the  country.  But  that  the  raths  and  lisses  are  not 
of  Danish  origin  would  be  proved  by  this  fact 
alone,  that  they  are  found  in  every  part  of  Ireland, 
and  more  plentiful  in  districts  where  the  Danes 
never  gained  any  footing,  than  where  they  had 

There  is  abundance  of  evidence  to  show  that 
these  structures  were  the  dwellings  of  the  people 
of  this  country  before  the  adoption  of  houses  of  a 
rectangular  form  ;  the  larger  raths  belonging  to 
the  better  classes,  and  the  great  fortified  duns  to 

'268  Artificial  Structures.  [PART  in 

the  princes  and  chieftains.  The  remains  still  to 
be  seen  at  the  historic  sites — Tara,  The  Navan, 
Rathcroghan,  Bruree,  &c. — places  celebrated  for 
ages  as  royal  residences — afford  striking  testimony 
to  the  truth  of  this ;  for  here  we  find  the  finest 
and  most  characteristic  specimens  of  the  Irish 
circular  forts  in  all  their  sizes  and  varieties. 

But  besides,  in  our  ancient  writings,  they  are 
constantly  mentioned  as  residences  under  their 
various  names  of  dun,  rath,  lios,  &c. — as  constantly 
as  houses  and  castles  are  in  books  of  the  last  two 
centuries.  To  illustrate  this,  I  will  give  a  few 
passages,  which  I  might  extend  almost  indefi- 
nitely, if  it  were  necessary.  In  the  "Feast  of 
Dun-na-ngedh"  ("Battle  of  Moyrath")  Congal 
Claen  thus  addresses  his  foster  father,  king 
Domhnall : — "  Thou  didst  place  a  woman  of  thine 
own  tribe  to  nurse  me  in  the  garden  of  the  lios  in 
Rrhich  thou  dwelledst."  On  which  O'Donovan 
remarks : — "  The  Irish  kings  and  chieftains  lived 
at  this  period  (A.D.  637)  in  the  great  earthen  rat/is 
or  lisses  the  ruins  of  which  are  still  so  numerous 
in  Ireland."  In  the  same  tale  we  read  of  two 
visitors  that  "  they  were  conducted  into  the  dun, 
and  a  dinner  sufficient  for  a  hundred  was  given 
to  them "  (p.  22) ;  and  in  another  place,  king 
Domhnall  says  to  Congall : — "  Gro  to  view  the 
great  feast  which  is  in  the  dun  "  (p.  24). 

In  the  "Forbais  Dromadamhghaire "  (see  p. 
102,  supra),  we  read  that  when  Cormac  sent  to 
demand  tribute  from  the  men  of  Munster,  they 
refused;  but  as  there  was  a  great  scarcity  in 
Cormac's  dominions,  they  offered  to  relieve  him 
by  a  gift  of  "  a  cow  out  of  each  lios  in  Munster  ; " 
and  in  the  poem  of  Dubhthach-ua-Lugair  in  the 
Book  of  Leinster,  celebrating  the  triumphs  of 
Enna  Kinsellagh,  king  of  Leinster,  it  is  stated 

CHAP,  i.]         Habitations  and  Fortresses.          269 

that  the  tribute  which  was  paid  to  Enna  out  of 
Hunster,  was  "  an  uinge  of  gold  from  every  lios." 

In  many  cases,  too,  we  find  the  building  of 
raths  or  lisses  recorded.  Thus  in  the  passage 
quoted  from  the  Book  of  Leinster  (p.  90,  supra], 
queen  Maev  sentences  the  five  sons  of  Dihorba  to 
"raise  a  rath"  around  her,  which  should  be  "the 
chief  city  of  Ulster  for  ever."  In  the  "Battle 
of  Moylena"  (p.  2)  it  is  stated  that  Nuadhat,  the 
foster  father  of  Owen  More  (see  p.  134,  supra], 
"raised  a  kingly  rath  on  Magh  Feimhin."  In 
the  Book  of  Armagh,  and  in  several  of  the  ancient 
Lives  of  St.  Patrick,  it  is  stated  that  on  a  certain 
occasion,  the  saint  heard  the  voices  of  workmen 
who  were  building  a  rath;  and  Jocelin,  in  rela- 
ting the  same  circumstance,  says  the  work  in 
which  they  were  engaged  was  "  Rayth,  i.  e.  murus" 

The  houses  in  which  the  families  lived  were 
built  within  the  enclosed  area,  timber  being,  no 
doubt,  the  material  employed,  in  accordance  with 
the  well-known  custom  of  the  ancient  Irish ;  and 
the  circumvallations  of  the  rath  served  both  for  a 
shelter  and  a  defence.  I  might  adduce  many 
passages  to  prove  this,  but  I  will  content  myself 
with  two — one  from  the  MS.  Harl.  5,280,  Brit. 
Mus.,  quoted  by  O'Curry  (Lect.,  p.  618)  :— "  They 
then  went  forward  until  they  entered  a  beautiful 
plain.  And  they  saw  a  kingly  rath,  and  a  golden 
tree  at  its  door ;  and  they  saw  a  splendid  house  in 
it,  under  a  roof -tree  of  findruine  ;  thirty  feet  was 
its  length."  And  the  other  from  the  tale  of  "The 
fate  of  the  Children  of  TJsnagh  "  (Atlantis,  No. 
VI.),  in  which  we  find  it  stated  that  as  Deirdre's 
mother  "was  passing  over  the  floor  of  the  house, 
the  infant  shrieked  in  her  womb,  so  that  it  was 
heard  all  over  the  Us." 

The  circular  form  was  not  discontinued  at  the 

270  Artificial  Structure*.          [PART  in. 

introduction  of  Christianity.  The  churches  in- 
deed were  universally  quadrangular,  but  this  form 
was  adopted  only  very  slowly  in  the  strongholds 
and  dwellings  of  the  chiefs  and  people.  Even  in 
ecclesiastical  architecture  the  native  form  to  some 
extent  prevailed,  for  it  seems  evident  that  the 
shape  of  the  round  towers  was  suggested  by  that 
of  the  old  fortresses  of  the  country.  Circular 
duns  and  raths,  after  the  ancient  pagan  fashion, 
continued  to  be  erected  down  to  the  twelfth  or 
thirteenth  century.  Tt  is  recorded  in  the  "Wars 
of  GGK,"  that  Brian  Borumha  fortified  or  erected 
certain  duns,  fastnesses,  and  islands  (i.  e.  iran- 
noges),  which  are  enumerated ;  and  the  remains 
of  several  of  these  are  still  to  be  seen,  differing 
in  no  respect  from  the  more  ancient  forts. 
Donagh  Cairbreach  O'Brien,  the  sixth  in  descent 
from  Brian  Borumha,  erected,  according  to  the 
"  Cathreim  Thoirdhealbhaigh  "  (compiled  in  1459 
by  John  M'Grath),  "  a  princely  palace  of  a 
circular  form  at  Clonroad"  (near  Ennis) ;  and 
the  same  authority  states  that  Conchobhair  na 
Siudaine,  the  son  of  Donagh,  built  at  the  same 
place  a  longphort  of  earth,  as  a  residence  for 

It  is  highly  probable  that  originally  the  words 
lios,  rath,  dun,  &c.,  were  applied  to  different  kinds 
of  structures :  but  however  that  may  be,  they  are 
at  present,  and  have  been  for  a  long  time,  espe- 
cially the  two  first,  confounded  one  with  another, 
so  that  it  seems  impossible  to  make  a  distinction. 
The  duns  indeed,  as  I  shall  explain  further  on, 
are  usually  pretty  well  distinguished  from  the 
lisses  and  raths;  but  we  often  find,  even  in  old 
authorities,  two  of  these  terms,  and  sometimes  the 
whole  three,  applied  to  the  very  same  edifices. 

In  the  following  passage,  for  instance,  from  the 

CHAP.  I.]      Habitations  and  Fortresses.  271 

annotations  of  Tirechan,  in  the  Book  of  Armagh, 
the  terms  lios  and  dun  appear  to  be  applied  synony- 
mously : — "  Cummen  and  Breathan  purchased 
Ochter-nAchid  (upper  field,  supposed  tobeOughter- 
agh,  a  parish  in  the  county  Leitrim),  with  its 
appurtenances,  both  wood,  and  plain,  and  meadow, 
together  with  its  /i'wsand  its  garden.  Half  of  this 
wood,  and  house  and  dun,  was  mortmain  to  Cum- 
men" (Petrie  R.  Towers,  p.  218).  And  some 
other  terms  also  are  used  in  the  same  manner ;  as 
for  example,  in  case  of  the  great  enclosure  at 
Tara,  which  is  known  by  the  two  names,  Eath- 
na-riogh,  and  Cathair-Crofain. 

In  another  passage*  from  the  Book  of  Bally- 
mote,  the  word  rath  is  used  to  denote  the  circular 
entrenchment,  and  les  the  space  enclosed  by  the 
raths,  while  the  whole  quotation  affords  another 
proof  that  houses  were  built  on  the  interior: — (a 
person  who  was  making  his  way  to  wan!  s  the 
palace)  "leaped  with  that  shaft  over  the  three 
r aths,  until  he  was  on  the  floor  of  the  les ;  and 
from  that  until  he  was  on  the  floor  of  the  king- 

Lios.  The  words  lios  [lis]  and  rath  were  applied 
to  the  circular  mound  or  entrenchment,  generally 
of  earth,  thrown  up  both  as  a  fortification  and  a 
shelter  round  the  level  space  on  which  the  houses 
were  erected;  and  accordingly  they  are  often 
translated  atrium  by  Latin  writers.  But  though 
this  is  the  usual  application  of  these  terms,  both 
— and  especially  rath — were,  and  are,  not  unf  re- 
quently  applied  to  the  great  high  entrenched 
mounds  which  are  commonly  designated  by  the 

*  Quoted  by  Mr.  J.  O'Beirne  Crowe,  in  an  article  in  the 
Journal  of  Hist,  and  Arch.  Assoc.  of  Ireland,  January,  J869, 
p.  223. 

272  Artificial  Structures.  [PART  in 

word  dun.  These  forts  are  still  very  numerous 
through  the  country,  and  they  are  called  lisses  and 
roths  to  the  present  day.  Their  great  numbers, 
and  the  very  general  application  of  the  terms  may 
be  judged  of  from  the  fact  that  there  are  aboui 
1,400  townlands  and  villages  dispersed  through  all 
parts  of  Ireland,  whose  names  begin  with  the 
word  Lis  alone ;  and  of  course  this  is  only  a  very 
small  fraction  of  all  the  lisses  in  Ireland. 

The  name  of  Lismore  in  Waterford  affords  a 
good  illustration  of  the  application  of  this  word  ; 
and  its  history  shows  that  the  early  saints  some- 
times surrounded  their  habitations  with  circular 
lisses,  after  the  fashion  of  their  pagan  ancestors. 
In  the  Life  of  St.  Carthach,  the  founder,  published 
by  the  Bollandists  at  the  14th  of  May,  we  are  told 
that  when  the  saint  and  his  followers,  after  his 
expulsion  from  Rahan,  arrived  at  this  place,  which 
had  previously  been  called  Maghsciath  (Ma-skee), 
the  plain  of  the  shield,  they  began  to  erect  a 
circular  entrenchment.  Then  a  certain  virgin, 
who  had  a  cell  in  the  same  field,  came  up  and 
inquired  what  they  were  doing ;  and  St.  Carthach 
answered  her  that  they  were  preparing  to  construct 
a  little  enclosure  or  Its  around  their  goods  for  the 
service  of  God.  And  the  holy  virgin  said,  "  It 
will  not  be  little,  but  great."  "  The  holy  father, 
Mochuda  (i.  e.  Carthach)  answered — '  Truly  it  will 
be  as  thou  sayest,  thou  handmaid  of  Christ ;  for 
from  this  name  the  place  will  be  always  called  in 
Scotic,  Liass-mor,  or  in  Latin  Atrium-magnum,'  " 
i.  e.  great  lis  or  enclosure.  There  are  altogether 
eleven  places  in  Ireland  called  by  this  name  Lis- 
more ;  all  with  the  same  meaning. 

Many  local  names  are  formed  by  the  union  of 
the  term  lios  with  a  personal  name ;  the  individual 
commemorated  being  either  the  builder  of  the  lia. 

CHAP,  i.]      Habitations  ana  foriresses.  273 

or  one  of  its  subsequent  possessors.  Listowel  in 
Kerry  is  called  by  the  Four  Masters,  Lios-Tuathail, 
Tuathal's  or  Thoohal's  fort ;  Liscarroll  in  Cork, 
Carroll's  or  Cearbhall's ;  Liscahane  in  the  parish  of 
Ardf  ert,  Kerry,  called  in  the  Annals,  Lios-  Cathain, 
Cathan's  or  Kane's  Us.  The  parish  of  Lissonuffy  in 
Roscommon,  took  its  name  from  an  old  church 
built  by  the  O'Duffy  s  within  the  enclosure  of  a  fort ; 
it  is  called  by  the  Four  Masters  Lios-0-nDubh- 
thaigh,  the  fort  of  the  O'Duffys,  the  pronunciation 
of  which  is  exactly  preserved  in  the  present  name. 

Or  if  not  by  name,  we  have  a  person  commemo- 
rated in  some  other  way;  as,  for  instance,  in 
Lisalbanagh  in  Londonderry,  the  Scotchman's  Us; 
Lisataggart  in  Cavan,  of  the  priest ;  Lisnabantry  in 
the  same  county,  the  Its  of  the  widow  (Lios-na-  bain- 
treabhaighe,  pron.  Lisnabointry) ;  Lissadill  in  the 
parish  of  Drumcliff,  Sligo,  which  the  Four  Masters 
write  Lios-an-doitt,  the  fort  of  the  blind  man,  the 
same  name  as  Lissadoill  in  Galway ;  Lissanearla 
near  Tralee,  the  earl's  fort. 

The  old  form  of  this  word  is  les,  genitive  Us ; 
but  in  the  modern  language  a  corrupt  genitive 
leasa  [lassa]  is  often  found.  All  these  are  pre- 
served in  modern  names ;  and  the  word  is  not  much 
subject  to  change  in  the  process  of  anglicisation. 
Different  forms  of  the  genitive  are  seen  in  the 
following : — Drumlish,  the  ridge  of  the  fort,  the 
name  of  a  village  in  Longford,  and  of  some  town* 
lands  in  the  northern  counties ;  Moyliss,  Moylish, 
and  Moylisha  (Moy,  a  plain)  ;  Gortalassa,  the  field 
of  the  Us;  Knockalassa  (hill) ;  Ballinlass,  Ballinliss, 
Ballinlassa,  and  Ballinlassy,  the  town  of  the  fort ; 
all  widely- spread  townland  names. 

The  two  diminutives  liosdn  and  lisin   [lissaun, 
lisheen] ,  little  fort,  are  very  common.     The  latter 
is  usually  made  Lisheen,  which  is  the  name  of 
VOL.  i.  19 

274  Artificial  Structure*.  ^ART  in. 

twenty  townlands,  and  helps  to  form  many  others. 
It  assumes  a  different  form  in  Lissen  or  Lissen 
Hall,  the  name  of  a  place  near  Swords  in  Dublin, 
and  of  another  in  the  parish  of  Kilmore,  Tipperary. 
Liosdn  appears  in  Lissan  and  Lissane,  which  are 
the  names  of  several  townlands  and  parishes.  The 
Irish  plural  appears  in  Lessanny  (little  forts)  in 
Mayo;  and  the  English  in  Lessans,  near  Saintfield 
in  Down.  It  occurs  in  combination  in  Mellison 
in  Tipperary,  which  is  called  in  Irish,  Magh-liosain, 
the  plain  of  the  little  Us,  and  in  Bally  lesson  in 
Down  and  Antrim,  the  town  of  the  little  fort. 

With  the  adjective  dur  prefixed,  signifying 
"  strong,"  the  compound  durlas  is  formed,  which 
means,  according  to  O'Donovan,  strong  fort  (Sup. 
to  O'Reilly's  Diet,  in  voce).  Several  great  forts 
in  different  parts  of  the  country  are  called  by  this 
name,  one  of  the  finest  of  which  is  situated  in  the 
parish  of  Kilruan,  Tipperary  ;  it  is  surrounded  by 
three  great  entrenchments,  and  contains  within  it 
the  ruins  of  a  small  ancient  church.  It  is  now  called 
Rath-durlais  in  Irish,  and  gives  name  to  the  town- 
land  of  Rathurles.  Several  places  derive  their 
names  from  this  word  durlas,  the  best  known  of 
which  is  the  town  of  Thurles  in  Tipperary,  which 
was  often  called  Durlas-  O'Fogarty,  from  its  situa- 
tion in  O'Fogarty's  country;  but  whether  the  fort 
remains  or  not,  I  cannot  tell.  Durless,  another 
form,  is  the  name  of  a  townland  in  Mayo,  and  of 
two  others  in  Tyrone. 

Rath.  This  term  has  been  explained  in  con- 
junction with  lios,  at  page  271  ;  in  the  Book  of 
Armagh,  rath  is  translated  fossa.  In  a  great 
number  of  cases  this  word  is  preserved  in  the 
anglicised  names  exactly  as  it  is  spelled  in  Irish, 
namely,  in  the  form  of  rath,  which  forms  or  begins 
the  names  oi  ab:mit  700  townlands.  The  townland 

CHAP,  i.]        Habitations  and  Fortresses.  275 

of  Rathurd  near  Limerick,  is  now  called  in  Irish 
Rath-tSuird,  but  by  the  annalists  Rath-arda-Suird, 
the  fort  of  the  height  of  sord,  whatever  sord 
may  mean.  The  Four  Masters  record  the  erection 
of  this  rath  by  one  of  Heber's  chieftains,  in  A.M. 
3501 ;  and  its  remains  are  still  to  be  seen  on  the 
top  of  Rathurd  hill,  near  the  old  castle.  Rathnew 
in  Wicklow,  is  called  in  Irish  authorities  Rath- 
Naoi,  the  latter  part  of  which  is  a  man's  name, 
possibly  the  original  possessor.  Rathdrum,  also 
in  Wicklow,  means  the  rath  of  the  drum  or  long 
hill,  and  there  are  several  other  places  of  the  same 
name  in  different  parts  of  Ireland ;  for  raths  were 
often  built  on  the  tops  of  low  hills. 

Rathmore,  great  fort,  is  the  name  of  forty  town- 
lands  in  different  counties.  In  many  of  these  the 
forts  still  remain,  as  at  Rathmore,  four  miles  east 
of  Naas  in  Kildare.  The  great  fortification  that 
gave  the  name  to  Rathmore  near  the  town  of 
Antrim,  still  exists,  and  is  famous  for  its  historical 
associations.  It  is  the  Rath-mor-Muighe-LinS {great 
rath  of  Moylinny)  of  our  historians ;  Tighernach 
notices  it  as  existing  in  the  second  century  ;  and 
in  the  seventh  it  was  the  residence  of  the  princes 
of  Dalaradia.  It  was  burned  in  the  year  1315  by 
Edward  Bruce,  which  shows  that  even  then  it  was 
an  important  residence  (Reeves,  Eccl.  Ant.  p.  280). 
Magh-Line  (plain  of  Line),  from  which  this  great 
fort  took  its  name,  was  a  district  of  the  present 
county  of  Antrim,  anciently  very  much  celebrated, 
whose  name  is  still  retained  by  the  townland  of 
Moylinny  near  the  town  of  Antrim.  The  old  name 
is  also  partly  retained  by  the  parish  of  Ballylinny 
town  of  Line)  lying  a  few  miles  eastward. 

Rath  is  in  Irish  pronounced  raw,  and  in  modern 
names  it  takes  various  phonetic  forms,  to  correspond 
with  this  pronunciation,  such  as  ra,  rah,  ray,  &c.f 

276  Artificial  Structures.         [PART  in. 

which  syllables,  as  representatives  of  rath,  begin 
the  names  of  about  400  townlands.  Raheny  near 
Dublin  is  called  by  the  annalists  Rath-Enna,  the 
fort  of  Enna,  a  man's  name  formerly  common  in 
Ireland ;  the  circumvallations  of  the  old  fort  are 
still  distinctly  traceable  round  the  Protestant 
church,  which  was  built  on  its  site.  The  village 
of  Ardara  in  Donegal,  takes  its  name  from  a  con- 
spicuous rath  oh  a  hill  near  it,  to  which  the  name 
properly  belongs,  in  Irish  Ard-a' -raith,  the  height 
of  the  rath.  Drumragh,  ,a  parish  in  Tyrone, 
containing  the  town  of  Omagh,  is  called  in  the 
Inquisitions,  Dromrathe,  pointing  to  the  Irish 
Druim-ratha,  the  ridge  or  hill  of  the  rath.  The 
word  occurs  singly  as  Raigh  in  Galway  and  Mayo ; 
Raw,  with  the  plural  Raws,  in  several  of  the 
Ulster  counties ;  and  Ray  in  Donegal  and  Cavan. 

Other  modern  modifications  and  compounds  are 
exhibited  in  the  following  names : — Belra  in  Sligq 
Belragh  near  Carnteel  in  Tyrone,  and  Belraugh 
in  Londonderry,  all  meaning  the  mouth  or  en- 
trance of  the  fort ;  Corray,  in  the  parish  of  Kil- 
macteige,  Sligo,  Cor-raith,  the  round  hill  of  the 
rath.  Roemore  in  the  parish  of  Breaghwy,  Mayo, 
is  called  Rahemore  in  an  Inquisition  of  James  I., 
which  shows  it  to  be  a  corruption  of  Rathmore, 
great  fort ;  and  there  is  another  Roemore  in  the 
parish  of  Kilmeena,  same  county.  Raharney  in 
Westmeath  preserves  an  Irish  personal  name  of 
great  antiquity,  the  full  name  \>emgJRath-Athairne, 
Atharny's  fort. 

The  diminutive  Raheen  (little  fort),  and  its 
plural  Raheens,  are  the  names  of  about  eighty 
townlands,  and  form  part  of  many  others.  There 
are  six  townlands  called  Raheenroe,  little  red 
rath  :  the  little  fort  which  gave  name  to  Raheenroe 
near  Ballyorgan  in  the  south  of  Limerick,  has 
been  levelled  within  my  own  memory. 

CHAP,  i.]      Habitations  and  Fortresses.  277 

Dun.  The  primary  meaning  of  the  word  dun  is 
"  strong  "  or  "firm,"  and  it  is  so  interpreted  in 
Zeuss,  page  30  : — "  Dun,  firmus,  fortis."  In  this 
sense  it  forms  a  part  of  the  old  name  of  Dunluce 
castle,  near  the  Giant's  Causeway — Dunlios  as  it 
is  called  in  all  Irish  authorities.  Dunlios  signifies 
strong  Us  or  fort — the  word  is  used  by  Keating, 
for  instance,  in  this  sense  (see  Four  M.,  V. 
1324f) — and  this  name  shows  that  the  rock  on 
which  the  castle  ruins  stand  was  in  olden  times 
occupied  by  a  fortified  Us.  It  has  the  same  signi- 
fication in  Dunchladh  [Dunclaw],  i.  e.  fortified 
mound  or  dyke,  the  name  of  the  ancient  boundary 
rampart  between  Brefny  and  Annaly,  extending 
from  Lough  Gowna  to  Lough  Kinclare  in  Long- 
ford ;  a  considerable  part  of  this  ancient  entrench- 
ment is  still  to  be  seen  near  Granard,  and  it  is 
now  well  known  by  the  anglicised  name  of 

As  a  verb,  the  word  dun  is  used  in  the  sense  of 
"  to  close,"  which  is  obviously  derived  from  its 
adjectival  signification  ;  and  this  usage  is  exem- 
plified in  Corragunt,  the  name  of  a  place  in  Fer- 
managh, near  Clones,  which  is  a  corruption  from 
the  Irish  name,  Corradhunta  (change  of  dh  to  g, 
page  56),  i.  e.  closed  or  shut  up  corra  or  weir. 

Dun,  as  a  noun,  signifies  a  citadel,  a  fortified 
royal  residence  ;  in  the  Zeuss  MSS.  it  glosses  arx 
and  castrum ;  Adamnan  translates  it  munitio ;  and 
it  is  rendered  "pallace"by  Mageoghegan  in  his 
translation  of  the  Annals  of  Clonmacnoise: — "He 
builded  seven  downes  or  pallaces  for  himself."  It 
is  found  in  the  Teutonic  as  well  as  in  the  Keltic 
languages — Welsh,  din;  Anglo-Saxon,  tun;  old 
high  German,  zun.  It  is  represented  in  English 
by  the  word  town ;  and  it  is  the  same  as  the  ter- 
mination dunum,  so  common  in  the  old  Latinised 

278  Artificial  Structures.          [PART  in. 

names  of  many  of  the  cities  of  Great  Britain  and 
the  Continent. 

This  word  was  anciently,  and  is  still,  frequently 
applied  to  the  great  forts,  with  a  high  central 
mound,  flat  at  top,  and  surrounded  by  several — 
very  usually  three — earthen  circumvallations. 
These  fortified  duns,  so  many  of  which  remain  all 
over  the  country,  were  the  residences  of  the 
kings  and  chiefs ;  and  they  are  constantly  men- 
tioned as  such  in  the  Irish  authorities.  Thus  we 
read  in  the  Feast  of  Dun-na-ngedh  (Battle  of 
Maghrath,  p.  7),  that  Domhnall,  son  of  Aedh,  king 
of  Ireland  from  A.D.  624  to  639,  "  first  selected 
Dun-na-ngedh,  on  the  banks  of  the  Boyne,  to  be 
his  habitation,  ....  and  he  formed  seven  very 
great  ramparts  around  this  dun,  after  the  model  of 
the  houses  of  Tara."  And  other  passages  to  the 
same  effect  are  cited  at  page  268  et  seq. 

In  modern  names,  dun  generally  assumes  the 
forms  dun,  doon,  or  don  ;  and  these  syllables  form 
the  beginnings  of  the  names  of  more  than  600 
townlands,  towns,  and  parishes. 

There  are  twenty-seven  different  places  called 
Doon ;  one  of  them  is  the  village  and  parish  of 
Doon  in  Limerick,  where  was  situated  the  church 
of  St.  Fintan;  the  fort  from  which  the  place 
received  the  name,  still  remains,  and  was  anciently 
called  Dunblesque.  Dunamon,  now  a  parish  in 
Galway,  was  so-called  from  a  castle  of  the  same 
name  on  the  Suck ;  but  the  name,  which  the 
annalists  write  Dun-Iomgain,  Imgan's  fort,  was 
anciently  applied  to  a  dun,  which  is  still  in  part, 
preserved.  Dundonnell,  i.  e.  DonalTs  or  Domh- 
nall' s  fortress,  is  the  name  of  a  townland  in 
Roscommon,  and  of  another  in  Westmeath  ;  and 
Doondonnell  is  a  parish  in  Limerick;  in  Down 
it  is  modified,  under  Scottish  influence,  to  Dun- 

CHAP.  i.J      Habitations  and  Fortresses.  279 

donald,  which  is  the  name  of  a  parish,  so  called 
from  a  fort  that  stands  not  far  from  the  church. 

The  name  of  Dundalk  was  originally  applied, 
not  to  the  town,  but  to  the  great  fortress  now 
called  the  moat  of  Castletown,  a  mile  inland  ; 
there  can  be  no  doubt  that  this  is  the  Dun-Dealgan 
of  the  ancient  histories  and  romances,  the  resi- 
dence of  Cuchullin,  chief  of  the  Red  Branch 
Knights  in  the  first  century.  In  some  of  the  tales 
of  the  Leabhar  na  hTJidhre,  it  is  called  Dun-Deka, 
but  in  later  authorities,  Dun-Dealgan,  i.  e.  Delga's 
fort ;  and  according  to  O'Curry,  it  received  its 
name  from  Delga,  a  Firbolg  chief  who  built  it. 
The  same  personal  name  appears  in  Kildalkey 
in  Meath,  which  in  one  of  the  Irish  charters  in 
the  Book  of  Kells,  is  written  Citt-Delga,  Delga's 

There  is  a  townland  near  Lisburn,  now  called 
Duneight,  but  written  Downeagh  in  an  Inquisition 
of  James  I.,  which  has  been  identified  by  Dr. 
Reeves  with  the  place  called  in  the  "  Circuit  of 
Ireland  "  Dun-Eachdhach,  Eochy's  fortress :  where 
the  great  king  Muircheartach  of  the  leather  cloaks, 
slept  a  night  with  his  men,  when  performing  his 
circuit  of  the  country  in  the  year  941.  There 
is  a  parish  in  Antrim,  and  also  a  townland, 
called  Dunaghy,  which  is  the  same  name  more 
correctly  anglicised. 

The  celebrated  rock  of  Dunamase  in  Queen's 
County  is  now  covered  by  the  ruins  of  the  O'Mores' 
castle,  but  it  must  have  been  previously  occupied 
by  a  dun  or  caher.  In  an  Inquisition  of  Richard 
II.,  it  is  called  Donemaske,  which  is  a  near  ap- 
proach to  its  Irish  name  as  we  find  it  in  the 
Annals,  viz.,  Dun-Masg,  the  fortress  of  Masg,  whc 
was  grandson  of  Sedna  Sithbhaic  (Sedna-Shee 
vick),  one  of  the  ancestors  of  the  Leinster  people 

280  Artificial  Structures.          [PART  in. 

A  great  number  of  these  duns,  as  will  be  seen 
from  the  preceding,  have  taken  their  names  from 
persons,  either  the  original  founders  or  subsequent 
possessors.  But  various  other  circumstances,  in 
connection  with  these  structures,  were  seized  upon 
to  form  names.  Doneraile  in  Cork,  is  called  in 
the  Book  of  Lismore,  Dun-air-aill,  the  fortress  on 
the  cliff,  but  whether  the  dun  is  still  there  I 
cannot  tell.  There  is  a  parish  in  Waterford 
whose  name  has  nearly  the  same  signification, 
viz.,  Dunhill;  it  is  called  in  Grace's  Annals 
Donnoil,  which  very  well  represents  the  Irish 
Dun-aill,  the  fortress  of  the  cliff.  It  is  understood 
to  have  taken  its  name  from  a  rock  on  which  a 
castle  now  stands ;  but  a  dun  evidently  preceded 
the  castle,  and  was  really  the  origin  of  the  name. 
Doonally  in  the  parish  of  Calry,  Sligo  (an  ancient 
residence  of  the  O'Donnells),  which  the  Four 
Masters  write  Dun-aille,  and  which  is  also  the 
name  of  several  townlands  in  Sligo  and  Galway, 
is  the  same  name,  but  more  correctly  rendered. 

Of  similar  origin  to  these  is  Dundrum  in  Down, 
which  the  Four  Masters  mention  by  the  name 
of  Dundroma,  the  fort  on  the  ridge  or  long  hill ; 
the  original  fort  has  however  disappeared,  and 
its  site  is  occupied  by  the  well-known  castle  ruins. 
There  are  several  other  places  called  Dundrum,  all 
of  which  take  their  name  from  a  fort  on  a  ridge ; 
the  ancient  fort  of  Dundrum,  near  Dublin,  was 
most  probably  situated  on  the  height  where  the 
church  of  Taney  now  stands. 

Although  the  word  dun  is  not  much  liable  to  be 
disguised  by  modern  corruption,  yet  in  some  cases 
it  assumes  forms  different  from  those  I  have 
mentioned.  The  town  of  Downpatrick  takes  its 
name  from  the  large  entrenched  dun  which  lies 
near  the  Cathedral.  In  the  first  century  this 

CHAP.  1^]        Habitations  and  Fortresses.  281 

fortress  was  the  residence  of  a  warrior  of  the  Red 
Branch  Knights,  called  Celtchair,  or  Keltar  of  the 
battles ;  and  from  him  it  is  variously  called  in 
Irish  authorities  Dunkeltar,  Rathkettar,  and  Aras- 
keltar  (aras,  a  habitation).  By  ecclesiastical 
writers  it  is  commonly  called  Dun-leth-glas,  or 
Dun-da-leth- glas ;  this  last  name  is  translated,  the 
dun  of  the  two  broken  locks  or  fetters  (glas,  a 
fetter),  which  Jocelin  accounts  for  by  a  legend — 
that  the  two  sons  of  Dichu  (see  p.  113),  having  been 
confined  as  hostages  by  king  Leaghaire,  were  re- 
moved from  the  place  of  their  confinement,  and  the 
two  fetters  by  which  they  were  bound  were  broken 
by  miraculous  agency.  "Afterwards,  for  brevity's 
sake,  the  latter  part  of  this  long  name  was  dropped, 
and  the  simple  word  Dun  retained,  which  has  past 
into  the  Latin  Dunum,  and  into  the  English 
Down  "  (Reeves  Eccl.  Ant.,  p.  143).  The  name 
of  St.  Patrick  was  added,  as  a  kind  of  distinctive 
term,  and  as  commemorative  of  his  connection 
with  the  place 

Down  is  the  name  of  several  places  in  King's 
County  and  Westmeath ;  and  the  plural  Downs 
(i.  e.  forts)  is  still  more  common.  The  name  of 
the  Glen  of  the  Downs  in  Wicklow,  is  probably 
a  translation  of  the  Irish  Gleann-na-ndun,  the 
glen  of  the  duns  or  forts.  Downamona  in  the 
parish  of  Kilmore,  Tipperary,  signifies  the  fort 
of  the  bog. 

Dooneen,  little  fort,  and  the  plural  Dooneens,  are 
the  names  of  nearly  thirty  townlands  in  the  south 
adn  west ;  they  are  often  made  Downing  and 
Downings  in  Cork,  Carlow,  Wicklow,  and  Kil- 
dare ;  and  Downeen  occurs  once  near  Ross  Carbery 
in  Cork. 

The  diminutive  in  an  is  not  so  common,  but  it 
gives  name  to  some  places,  such  as  Doonan,  three 

282  Artificial  Structures.          [PART  m. 

townlands  in  Antrim,  Donegal,  and  Fermanagh ; 
Doonane  in  Queen's  County  and  Tipperary :  and 
Doonans  (little  forts)  in  the  parish  of  Annoy, 

There  are  innumerable  names  all  over  the 
country,  containing  this  word  as  a  termination. 
There  is  a  small  island,  and  also  a  townland,  near 
Dungarvan,  called  Shandon,  in  Irish  Seandun, 
old  fort ;  and  there  is  little  doubt  that  the  fortress 
was  situated  on  the  island.  This  name  is  better 
known,  however,  as  that  of  a  church  in  Cork, 
celebrated  in  Father  Prout's  melodious  chanson : — 

"The  bells  of  Shandon, 
That  sound  so  grand  on 
The  pleasant  waters  of  the  river  Lee." 

The  name  reminds  us  of  the  time  when  the  hill* 
now  teeming  with  city  life  under  the  shadow  of 
the  church,  was  crowned  by  the  ancient  for- 
tress, which  looked  down  on  St.  Finbar's  infant 
colony,  in  the  valley  beneath.  Shannon  in  Done- 
gal, near  Lifford,  is  from  the  same  original, 
having  the  d  aspirated,  for  it  is  written  Shandon  in 
some  old  English  documents ;  and  Shannon  in  the 
parish  of  Calry,  Sligo,  is  no  doubt  similarly  derived. 
We  sometimes  find  two  of  the  terms,  lios,  rath, 
and  dun,  combined  in  one  name ;  and  in  this  case, 
either  the  first  is  used  adjectively,  like  dun  in 
Dunluce  (p.  277),  or  it  is  a  mere  explanatory 
term,  used  synonymously  with  the  second.  Or 
such  a  name  might  originate  in  successive  struc- 
tures, like  the  old  name  of  Caher  in  Tipperary, 
for  which  see  p.  284,  infra.  Of  the  union  of  two 
terms,  we  have  a  good  illustration  in  Lisdoon- 
varna  in  the  north-west  of  Clare,  well  known  for 
its  spa,  which  takes  its  name  from  a  large  fort  on 
the  right  of  the  road  as  you  go  from  Ballyvaghan 

CHAP,  i.j        Habitations  and  Fortresses,  283 

to  Ennistymon.  The  proper  name  of  this  is 
Doonvarna  (Dun-bhearnach),  gapped  fort,  from 
its  shape ;  and  the  word  Lis  was  added  as  a 
generic  term,  somewhat  in  the  same  manner  as 
"river,"  in  the  expression  "the  river  Liffey ;" 
Lisdoonvarna,  i.  e.  the  Us  (of)  Doonvarna.  In 
this  way  came  also  the  name  of  Lisdown  in 
Armagh,  and  Lisdoonan  in  Down  and  Monaghan. 
The  word  bearnach,  gapped,  is  not  ^infrequently 
applied  to  a  fort,  referring,  not  to  its  original 
form,  but  to  its  dilapidated  appearance,  when  the 
clay  had  been  removed  by  the  peasantry,  so  as  to 
leave  breaches  or  gaps  in  the  circumvallations. 
Hence  the  origin  of  such  names  as  Rathbarna  in 
Roscommon,  and  Caherbarnagh  in  Clare,  Cork, 
and  Kerry. 

One  of  the  most  obvious  means  of  fortifying  a 
fort  was  to  flood  the  external  ditch,  when  the  con- 
struction admitted  it,  and  the  water  was  at  hand ; 
and  whoever  is  accustomed  to  examine  these 
ancient  structures,  must  be  convinced  that  this 
plan  was  often  adopted.  In  many  cases  the  old 
channel  may  be  traced,  leading  from  an  adjacent 
stream  or  spring  ;  and  not  unf  requently  the  water 
still  remains  in  its  place  in  the  fosse. 

The  names  themselves  often  prove  the  adoptior 
of  this  mode  of  defence,  or  rather  the  existence 
of  the  water  in  its  original  position,  long  aftei 
the  fort  had  been  abandoned.  There  are  twenty- 
eight  townlands  called  Lissaniska  and  Lissanisky, 
chiefly  in  the  southern  half  of  Ireland — Lios-an- 
uisge,  the  fort  of  the  water.  None  of  these  are 
in  Ulster,  but  the  same  name  occurs  as  Lisanisk 
in  Monaghan,  Lisanisky  in  Cavan,  and  Lisnisk 
and  Lisnisky  in  Antrim,  Down,  and  Armagh. 
With  the  same  signification  we  find  Rathaniska, 
the  name  of  a  place  in  Westmeath ;  Raheenaniska 

284  Artificial  Structures.         [PART  in. 

and  Raheenanisky  in  Queen's  County ;  Rahaniska 
and  Rahanisky  in  Clare,  Tipperary,  and  Cork; 
and  in  the  last-mentioned  county  there  is  a  parish 
called  Dunisky  or  Doonisky. 

Long  after  the  lisses  and  raths  had  been  aban- 
doned as  dwellings,  many  of  them  were  turned  to 
different  uses ;  and  we  see  some  of  the  high  duns 
and  mounds  crowned  with  modern  buildings,  such 
as  those  at  Drogheda,  Naas,  and  Castletown  near 
Dundalk.  The  peasantry  have  always  felt  the 
greatest  reluctance  to  putting  them  under  tillage  ; 
and  in  every  part  of  Ireland,  you  will  hear  stories 
of  the  calamities  that  bafell  the  families  or  the 
cattle  of  the  foolhardy  farmers,  who  outraged  the 
fairies'  dwellings,  by  removing  the  earth  or  tilling 
the  enclosure. 

They  were,  however,  often  used  as  pens  for 
cattle,  for  which  some  of  them  are  admirably 
adapted ;  and  we  have,  consequently,  many  such 
names  as  Lisnageeragh,  Rathnageeragh,  and 
Rakeeragh,  the  fort  of  the  sheep  ;  Lisnagree  and 
Lisnagry  [Lios-na-ngroidh] ,  of  the  cattle ;  Lisna- 
gowan,  the  Us  of  the  calves,  &c. 

Cathair.  This  word,  which  is  pronounced  caher 
appears  to  have  been  originally  applied  to  a  city, 
for  the  old  form  cathir  glosses  civitas  in  the  Wb.  MS. 
of  Zeuss.  It  has  been,  however,  from  a  very 
early  period — perhaps  from  the  beginning — used 
to  designate  a  circular  stone  fort ;  it  is  applied  to 
both  in  the  present  spoken  language. 

These  ancient  buildings  are  still  very  common 
throughout  the  country,  especially  in  the  south 
and  west,  where  the  term  was  in  most  general 
use  ;  and  they  have  given  names  to  great  numbers 
of  places.  In  modern  nomenclature  the  word 
usually  takes  one  of  the  two  forms,  caher  and 
eahir ;  and  there  are  more  than  300  townlands 

CHAP,  i.]         Habitations  and  Fortresses.  285 

and  towns  whose  names  begin  with  one  or  the 
other  of  these  two  words,  all  in  Munster  and 
Connaught,  except  three  or  four  in  Leinster — 
none  in  Ulster. 

Caher  itself  is  the  name  of  more  than  thirty 
townlands,  in  several  of  which  the  original 
structures  are  still  standing.  The  stone  fort  that 
gave  name  to  Caher  in  Tipperary,  was  situated  on 
the  rocky  island  now  occupied  by  the  castle,  which 
has  of  course  obliterated  every  vestige  of  the 
previous  edifice.  Its  full  name,  as  used  by  the 
Four  Masters  and  other  authorities,  was  Cathair- 
duna-iascaigh  [eesky],  the  circular  stone  fortress 
of  the  fish-abounding  dun,  and  this  name  is  still 
used  by  the  Irish-speaking  people  ;  from  which  it 
is  obvious,  "  that  an  earthen  dun  had  originally 
occupied  the  site  on  which  a  caher  or  stone  fort 
was  erected  subsequently  "  (Petrie,  "  Irish  Penny 
Journal,"  p.  257).  I  think  it  equally  evident 
that  before  the  erection  of  the  caher  its  name  way 
Duniascaigh  [Duneesky],  the  fish-abounding  dun, 
and  indeed  the  Four  Masters  once  (at  1581)  give 
it  this  appellation.  Dr.  Petrie  goes  on  to  say  : — 
"The  Book  of  Lecan  records  the  destruction  of 
the  caher  by  Cuirreach,  the  brother-in-law  of 
Felimy  the  Lawgiver,  as  early  as  the  third  century, 
at  which  time  it  is  stated  to  have  been  the  resi- 
dence of  a  female  named  Badamar." 

Cahersiveen  in  Kerry  retains  the  correct  pro- 
nunciation of  the  Irish  name,  Cathair-Saidhbhin, 
the  stone  fort  of  Saidhbhm,  or  Sabina.  Saidhbhiit 
is  a  diminutive  of  Sadhbh  [Sauv],  a  woman's  name 
formerly  in  very  general  use,  which  in  latter 
times  has  been  commonly  changed  to  Sarah. 
Caherconlish  in  Limerick  must  have  received  its 
name,  like  Caher  in  Tipperary,  from  the  erection 
of  a  stone  fort  near  an  older  earthen  ooe ;  its 

286  Artificial  Stnictures.          [PART  in. 

Irish  name  being  Cathair-chinn-lis  (Annals  of  In- 
nisf alien),  the  caher  at  the  head  of  the  lis.  The 
ruins  of  the  original  stone  fort  that  gave  name  to 
Cahermurphy  in  the  parish  of  KQmihil,  Clare, 
still  remain :  the  Four  Masters  call  it  Cathair- 
Murchadha,  Murrough's  caher.  The  whitish  colour 
of  the  stones  has  given  the  name  of  Cahergal 
( Cathair-geal,  white  caher}  to  many  of  these  forts 
from  which  again  eleven  townlands  in  Cork, 
Waterford,  Galway,  and  Mayo,  have  derived 
their  names. 

Cahereen,  little  caher,  is  the  name  of  a  place 
near  Castleisland  in  Kerry.  The  genitive  of 
cathair  is  catharach  [caheragh],  and  this  forms 
the  latter  part  of  a  number  of  names ;  for  exam- 
ple, there  is  a  place  near  Dunmanway,  and  an- 
other near  Kenmare,  called  Derrynacaheragh  the 
oak-wood  of  the  stone  fort. 

Caiseal.  Cormac  Mac  Cullenan,  in  his  glossary, 
conjectures  that  the  name  of  Cashel  in  Tipperary, 
is  derived  from  Cis-ail,  i.  e.  tribute-rent ;  the 
same  derivation  is  given  in  the  Book  of  Rights ; 
while  O'Clery  and  other  Irish  authorities  propose 
Cios-ail,  rent-rock — the  rock  on  which  the  kings 
of  Munster  received  their  rents ;  for  Cashel  was 
once  the  capital  city  of  Munster,  and  the  chief 
residence  of  its  kings.  There  can  be  no  doubt 
that  all  this  is  mere  fancy,  for  the  word  caiseal  is 
very  common  in  Irish,  and  is  always  used  to 
signify  a  circular  stone  fort ;  it  is  a  simple  word, 
and  either  cognate  with,  or,  as  Ebel  asserts, 
derived  from  the  Latin  castellum  ;  and  it  is  found 
in  the  most  ancient  Irish  MSS.,  such  as  those  of 
Zeuss,  Cormac' s  Glossary,  &c. 

Moreover,  in  the  modern  form,  Cashel,  it  is  the 
name  of  about  fifty  townlands,  and  begins  the 
names  of  about  fifty  others,  every  one  of  which 

CHAP,  i.]        Habitations  and  Fortresses.  28? 

was  so  called  from  one  of  these  ancient  stone 
forts ;  and  there  is  no  reason  why  Cashel  in  Tip- 
perary  should  be  different  from  the  others.  As  a 
further  proof  that  this  is  its  real  signification,  it 
is  translated  maceria  in  a  charter  of  A.  D.  1004, 
which  is  entered  in  the  Book  of  Armagh  (Reeves's 
Adamnan,  p.  75).  About  the  beginning  of  the 
fifth  century,  Core,  king  of  Munster,  took  pos- 
session of  Cashel,  and  there  can  be  but  little 
doubt  that  he  erected  a  stone  fort  on  the  rock 
now  so  well  known  for  its  ecclesiastical  ruins,  for 
we  are  told  that  he  changed  its  name  from  sidh- 
dhruim  [Sheedrum  :  fairy  ridge]  to  Caiseal.  The 
cashels  belong  to  the  same  class  as  cahers,  raths, 
&c.,  and  like  them  are  of  pagan  origin  ;  but  the 
name  was  very  often  adopted  in  Christian  times  to 
denote  the  wall  with  which  the  early  saints  sur- 
rounded their  establishments. 

Cashels,  and  places  named  from  them,  are 
scattered  over  the  four  provinces,  but  they  pre- 
ponderate in  the  western  and  north-western 
counties.  Cashelfean  in  Cork  and  Donegal,  and 
Cashelnavean  near  Stranorlar  in  the  latter  county, 
both  signify  the  stone  fort  of  the  Fianna  or  ancient 
Irish  militia  (see  p.  91);  Cashelfinoge  near  Boyle 
in  Roscommon,  the  fort  of  the  scald  crows.  Some- 
times this  word  is  corrupted  to  castle,  as  we  find 
in  Bally  castle  in  Mayo,  the  correct  name  of  which 
would  be  Ballycashel,  for  it  is  called  in  Irish, 
Baile-an-chaisil,  the  town  of  the  cashel;  but  the 
name  of  Ballycastle  in  Antrim  is  correct,  for  it  was 
so  called,  not  from  a  cashel,  but  from  a  castle. 
Castledargan  in  the  parish  of  Kilross,  Sligo,  is  simi- 
larly corrupted,  for  the  Four  Masters  call  it  Caiseal- 
Locha- Dear  gain,  the  stone  fort  of  Lough  Dargan. 

Brugh  and  Bruighean.  Brugh  [bru]  signifies  a 
palace  or  distinguished  residence.  This  term  was 

288  Artificial  Structures.          [PART  m 

applied  to  many  of  the  royal  residences  of  Ireland ; 
and  several  of  the  places  that  have  preserved  the 
word  in  their  names  have  also  preserved  the 
old  brughs  or  raths  themselves.  Bruree  on  the 
river  Maigue  in  Limerick,  is  a  most  characteristic 
example.  Its  proper  name,  as  it  is  found  in  many 
Irish  authorities,  is  Brugh-righ,  the  fort  or  palace 
of  the  king ;  for  it  was  the  principal  seat  of  Oilioll 
Olum,  king  of  Munster  in  the  second  century 
(see  p.  134),  and  afterwards  of  the  O'Donovans, 
chiefs  of  Hy  Carbery,  i.  e.  of  the  level  country 
round  Bruree  and  Kilmallock.  In  the  Book  of 
Rights,  it  is  mentioned  first  in  the  list  of  the 
king  of  Cashel's  seats,  and  there  are  still  remain- 
ing extensive  earthen  forts,  the  ruins  of  the 
ancient  brugh  or  palace  of  Oilioll  Olum  and  his 
successors.  According  to  an  ancient  MS.  quoted 
by  O'Curry  (Battle  of  Moylena,  p.  72),  the  most 
ancient  name  of  this  place  was  Dun-  Cobhthaigh  or 
Duncoffy,  Coff agh's  dun ;  which  proves  that  it  was 
a  fortified  residence  before  its  occupation  by  Oilioll 

The  present  name  of  Sniff  in  Limerick,  is  a 
corruption  of  Brugh  (see  p.  54).  It  is  now  called 
in  Irish  Brubh-na-leise,  in  which  both  terms  are 
corrupted,  the  correct  name  being  Brugh-na-Deise 
[Bruna-daishe],  i.  e.  the  brugh  or  mansion  of  the 
ancient  territory  of  .Dm-beg  ;  and  from  the  first 
part,  Brubh  [bruv],  the  modern  form  Bruff  is 
derived.  The  brugh  that  gave  name  to  this  place 
still  exists ;  it  is  an  earthen  fort  near  the  town 
called  at  the  present  day  by  the  people,  Lism-d- 
Bhrogha,  as  in  the  old  song,  "  Binn  lisin  aerach  a 
Bhrogha,"  "  The  melodious  airy  little  lis  of  Bruff." 
There  is  a  place  called  Brufl  in  the  parish  of 
Aughamore,  Mayo,  which  is  also  from  the  same 
word  brugh. 

CHAP,  i.]      Habitations  and  Fortresses.  289 

In  some  parts  of  the  country  they  use  the  form 
brughas  [bruas],  which  has  originated  the  names 
of  Bruis,  now  a  parish  in  Tipperary ;  Bruce,  two 
townlands  in  Wexford ;  and  Bruse,  two  others  in 
Cavan.  There  is  also  a  derivative  brughachas 
[brughas],  which,  as  well  as  brugh  itself,  is  used 
in  several  places  to  denote  a  farm-house,  and  the 
former  is  pretty  common  in  this  sense,  in  some  of 
the  Ulster  counties.  We  derive  from  it  Brughas, 
the  name  of  a  townland  in  Armagh,  and  of 
another  in  Fermanagh ;  and  Drumbrughas,  the 
ridge  of  the  farm-house,  a  name  of  frequent 
occurrence  in  Cavan  and  Fermanagh.  (For  the 
termination  s,  see  2nd  Vol.,  Chap.  1.) 

The  diminutive  bruighean  [breean]  signifying 
also  a  royal  mansion,  or  great  house,  is  even  more 
common  than  its  original.  Both  brugh  and 
bruighean  were  often  used  to  signify  a  house  of 
public  hospitality,  whence  the  term  brugh aidh 
[broo-ey],  the  keeper  of  such  a  house — a  farmer. 
There  was  a  celebrated  house  of  this  kind  on  the 
river  Dodder,  two  miles  south  of  Tallaght  in 
Dublin,  called  Bruighean- Da-Derga,  from  Da- 
Derga,  its  owner.  This  mansion  was  destroyed  by 
a  band  of  pirates,  about  the  time  of  the  Christian 
era,  and  they  also  slew  the  monarch,  Conary- 
more,  who  was  enjoying  the  hospitality  of  Da- 
Derga.  Its  destruction,  and  the  death  of  the 
monarch,  are  mentioned  in  our  oldest  authorities, 
such  as  the  Leabhar  na  hUidhre,  &c.  ;  no  re- 
mains of  the  old  fort  can  now  be  discovered,  but 
it  has  left  its  name  on  the  townland  of  Boherna- 
breena,  which  is  the  phonetic  representative  of 
Bothar-na  Bruighne,  the  road  of  the  bruighean  or 

Another  mansion  of  the  same  kind,  equally 
renowned,  was  Bruighean-Da-Choga,  which  wa^ 
VOL.  i.  20 

290  Artificial  Structures.  [PART  in. 

situated  in  the  present  county  Westmeath.  This 
was  stormed  and  destroyed  in  the  first  century, 
and  Cormac  Conloingeas,  son  of  Conor  mac  Nessa 
(see  p.  126),  who  had  stopped  there  to  rest  on  his 
journey  from  Connaught  to  Ulster,  was  slain.  The 
ancient  Ballybetagh  attached  to  this  house  is  now 
subdivided  into  four  townlands,  situated  in  the 
parish  of  Drumrany,  two  of  them  called  Bryan- 
more,  and  two  Bryanbeg ;  in  which  Bryan  repre- 
sents the  present  pronunciation  of  Bruighean.  The 
old  mansion  itself  still  remains,  and  is  situated  in 
Bryanmore  Upper  ;  it  is  a  fort  about  200  feet  in 
diameter,  containing  within  its  circle  the  ruins  of 
an  Anglo-Norman  castle ;  and  it  was  formerly 
surrounded  by  a  circle  of  upright  stones. 

In  more  recent  times,  the  word  bruighean  has 
been  always  used  by  the  people  to  denote  a  fairy 
palace — for  the  old  forts  were  believed  to  be  in- 
habited by  the  fairies ;  and  in  this  sense  it  is 
generally  understood  in  its  application  to  local 
names.  The  form  bryan  is  found  in  some  other 
names  besides  those  in  Westmeath  ;  such  as  Bryan 
( -beg  and  -more),  near  Aughrim  in  Roscommon. 
Breen,  which  well  represents  the  original  sound, 
is  the  name  of  three  townlands  in  Antrim,  Done- 
gal, and  Tyrone ;  and  there  is  a  place  in  Limerick, 
north  of  Kilfinane,  and  another  near  Emly  in 
Tipperary,  called  Ballinvreena,  the  town  of  the 
fairy  mansion.  The  double  diminutive  Breenaun 
occurs  in  the  parish  of  Ross,  Galway  ;  and  we  find 
Breenagh — a  place  abounding  in  fairy  mansions — 
in  the  parish  of  Conwal,  Donegal.  The  diminutive 
in  6g  occurs  once  in  Sligo,  giving  name  to  Breeoge, 
in  the  parish  of  Kilmacowen — Bruigheog,  little 
brugh  or  fort. 

Mota.  The  large  high  mounds  are  often  called 
mota  in  Irish,  the  same  as  the  English  word 

CHAP.  I.]      Habitations  and  Fortresses.  291 

It  is  the  opinion  of  the  best  Irish  scholars,  and 
among  others,  of  O'Donovan,  that  it  is  not  an 
original  Irish  word  at  all,  for  it  is  not  found  in 
any  ancient  authority ;  it  is  very  probably  nothing 
more  than  the  English  word  moat,  or  perhaps  the 
Anglo-Saxon  mote,  borrowed,  like  many  others, 
into  Irish. 

We  find  a  few  names  in  the  annals,  formed  from 
this  word.  The  Four  Masters  mention  Mount- 
garret,  now  a  ruined  castle  on  the  Barrow,  near 
New  Ross,  once  a  residence  of  the  Butlers ;  and 
they  call  it  Mota-Gaired,  Garret's  moat,  which 
shows  that  the  place  should  have  been  called 
Moatgarret.  Ballymote  in  Sligo  also  occurs  in 
the  Four  Masters,  in  the  Irish  form  Baile-an- 
mhota,  the  town  of  the  moat. 

There  are  many  townlands  called  Moat  and 
Mota,  which  derive  their  names  from  this  word, 
and  in  numerous  cases  the  mounds  are  still  pre- 
served. The  great  mound  of  Moate  in  "West- 
meath,  forms  a  very  conspicuous  feature;  it  is 
called  Moategranoge ;  and  '-.his  name  is  derived, 
according  to  tradition,  from  Graine-og,  young 
Grania  or  Grace,  a  Munster  lady  who  married 
one  of  the  O'Melaghlins.  She  is  probably  the 
person  commemorated  in  the  legend  referred  to  by 
Caesar  Otway; — "a  legend  concerning  a  Milesian 
princess  taking  on  herself  the  office  of  brehon. 
and  from  this  moat  adjudicating  causes  and  de- 
livering her  oral  laws  to  the  people"  (Toiir  in 
Connaught,  p.  55). 

Orianan. — The  word  grianan  [greenan]  is  ex- 
plained by  O'Donovan  (App.  to  O'Reilly's  Diet., 
in  voce),  1,  a  beautiful  sunny  spot;  2,  a  bowei 
or  summer-house ;  3,  a  balcony  or  gallery  (on  a 
house) ;  4,  a  royal  palace.  Its  literal  meaning  if 
a  sunny  spot,  for  it  is  derived  from  grian,  the  sup 

292  Artificial  Structure*.  [PART  in. 

and  the  Irish-Latin  writers  often  translate  it 
solarium,  and  terra  Solaris.  It  is  of  frequent  oc- 
currence in  the  most  ancient  Irish  MSS.,  princi- 
pally in  the  second  and  fourth  senses ;  as  for  instance 
in  Cormac's  Glossary,  where  it  is  used  as  another 
name  for  "a  palace  on  a  hill."  O'Brien  explains 
it  a  royal  seat,  in  which  sense  it  is  used  by  the 
best  Irish  writers ;  and  this  is  unquestionably  its 
general  meaning,  when  it  occurs  in  topographical 
names.  The  most  common  English  forms  of  the 
word  are  Greenan,  Greenane,  Greenaun,  and  Gre- 
nan,  which  are  the  names  of  about  forty-five 
townlands  distributed  all  over  the  four  provinces. 

The  grianans  are  generally  the  same  kind  of 
structures  as  the  cahers,  brughs,  &c.,  already  ex- 
plained ;  and  many  of  them  still  remain  in  the 
places  whose  names  contain  the  word.  The  most 
celebrated  palace  of  the  name  in  Ireland  was 
Greenan-Ely,  of  which  I  will  speak  under  Aileach. 
Grenanstown  in  Tipperary,  five  miles  from  Ne- 
nagh,  has  got  its  present  name  by  translation 
from  Baile-an-ghrianain,  the  town  of  the  palace ; 
the  grianan  is  evidently  the  great  fort  now  called 
Lisrathdine,  which  appears  to  have  been  an  im- 
portant place,  as  it  is  very  large,  and  has  three 
circumvallations.  The  name  of  the  fort  has  been 
formed  like  that  of  Lisdoonvarna  (p.  282) ;  Lis- 
rathdine, i.  e.  the  fort  of  E-athdine,  this  last  sig- 
nifying deep  rath  (Rath-doimhin)  in  allusion  to 
the  depth  of  the  fosses.  Clogrennan  castle,  the 
ruins  of  which  are  situated  on  the  Barrow,  three 
miles  below  Carlow,  must  have  been  built  on  the 
site  of  a  more  ancient  residence,  as  the  name 
sufficiently  attests — Cloch-grianain,  the  stone  castlo 
of  the  grianan. 

It  will  be  perceived  that  grianan  is  a  diminu- 
tive from  grian;  the  other  diminutive  in  6g 

CHAP,  i.]         Habitations  and  Fortresses,  293 

sometimes  occurs  also,  and  is  understood  to  mean 
a  sunny  little  hill.  We  find  Greenoge,  a  village 
and  parish  in  Meath ;  and  this  is  also  the  name  of 
a  townland  near  Rathcoole,  Dublin,  and  of  another 
near  Dromore  in  Down  (see,  for  these  diminu- 
tives, 2ndYol.,  Chap.  11.). 

Aileaeh.  The  circular  stone  fortresses  already 
described  under  the  words  cathair  and  caiseal, 
were  often  called  by  the  name  aileach  [ellagh],  a 
word  which  signifies  literally  a  stone  house  or 
stone  fort,  being  derived  from  ail,  a  stone.  Michael 
O'Clery,  in  his  Glossary  of  ancient  Irish  words, 
gives  this  meaning  and  derivation: — "Aileach  or 
ntltheach,  i.  e.  a  name  for  a  habitation,  which 
(name)  was  given  from  stones "  (see  2nd  Vol., 
Chap.  i.). 

Aileach  is  well  known  to  readers  of  Irish  history 
as  the  name  of  the  palace  of  the  Northern  Hy 
Neill  kings,  which  is  celebrated  in  the  most  an- 
cient Irish  writing  under  various  names,  such  as 
Aileach  Neid,  Aileach  Frighrinn,  &c.  The  ruins  of 
this  great  fortress,  which  is  situated  on  a  hill, 
four  miles  north-west  from  Derry,  have  been 
elaborately  described  in 'the  Ordnance  memoir  of 
the  parish  of  Templemore ;  they  consist  of  a 
circular  cashel  of  cyclopean  masonry,  crowning  the 
summit  of  the  hill,  surrounded  by  three  concentric 
ramparts.  It  still  retains  its  old  name,  being 
called  Greenan-Ely,  i.  e.  the  palace  of  Aileach,  for 
Ely  represents  the  pronunciation  of  Ailigh,  the 
genitive  of  Aileach  ;  and  it  gives  name  to  the  two 
adjacent  townlands  of  Elaghmore  and  Elaghbeg. 

Elagh  is  also  the  name  of  two  townlands  in 
Tyrone,  and  there  are  several  places  in  Galway 
and  Mayo  called  Ellagh,  all  derived  from  a  stone 
fort.  In  Caherelly,  the  name  of  a  parish  in  Li- 
uierick,  there  is  a  union  of  two  synonymous  terms, 

294  Artificial  Structure*.  £PART  in. 

the  Irish  name  being  Cathair-Ailigh,  the  caher  of 
the  stone  fort.  So  also  in  Cahernally  near  the 
town  of  Headford  in  Galway,  which  is  called 
Cathair-na-hailighi,  the  caher  of  the  stone-fort,  in 
an  ancient  document,  quoted  by  Hardiman  (lar  C. 
371) ;  and  the  old  stone-built  fortress  still  re- 
mains there.  A  stone  fort  must  have  existed  on 
a  ridge  in  Dromanallig,  a  townland  near  Inchigeel- 
agh  in  Cork ;  and  another  on  the  promontory 
called  Ardelly  in  Erris,  which  Mac  Firbis,  in 
"  Hy  Fiachrach,"  calls  Ard-Ailigh. 

Teamhair.  The  name  of  Tara,  like  that  of 
Cashel,  has  been  the  subject  of  much  conjecture ; 
and  our  old  etymologists  have  also  in  this  instance 
committed  the  mistake  of  seeking  to  decompose 
what  is  in  reality  a  simple  term.  The  ancient 
name  of  Tara  is  Teamhair,  and  several  of  our  old 
writers  state  that  it  was  so  called  from  Tea,  the 
wife  of  Heremon,  who  was  buried  there : — Teamh- 
air, i.  e.  the  mur  or  wall  of  Tea,  But  this  deri- 
vation is  legendary,  for  Teamhair  was,  and  is  still, 
a  common  local  name. 

Teamhair  [Tawer]  is  a  simple  word,  and  has 
pretty  much  the  same  meaning  as  grianan  (see  p. 
291) ;  it  signifies  an  elevated  spot  commanding  an 
extensive  prospect,  and  in  this  sense  it  is  fre- 
quently used  as  a  generic  term  in  Irish  MSS.  In 
Cormac's  Glossary  it  is  stated  that  the  teamhair  of 
a  house  is  a  grianan  (i.  e.  balcony),  and  that  the 
teamhair  of  a  country  is  a  hill  commanding  a  wide 
view.  This  meaning  applies  to  every  teamhair  in 
Ireland,  for  they  are  all  conspicuously  situated ; 
and  the  great  Tara  in  Meath,  is  a  most  character- 
istic example.  Moreover,  it  must  be  remembered 
that  a  teamhair  was  a  residence,  and  that  all  the 
teamhairs  had  originally  one  or  more  forts,  which 
in  case  of  many  of  them  remain  to  this  day. 

CHAP.  i.J         Habitations  and  Fortresses.  295 

The  genitive  of  teamhair  is  teamhrach  [taragh 
or  towragh],  and  it  is  this  form  which  has  given 
its  present  name  to  Tara  in  Meath,  and  to  every 
other  place  whose  name  is  similarly  spelled  (see  p. 
33).  By  the  old  inhabitants,  however,  all  these 
places  are  called  in  Irish  Teamhair.  Our  histories 
tell  us  that  when  the  Firbolgs  came  to  Tara,  they 
called  the  hill  Dmim-caein  [Druinkeen],  beautiful 
ridge;  and  it  was  also  called  Liathdhruim  [Lei- 
trim],  grey  ridge.  There  is  a  place  called  Tara 
in  the  parish  of  Witter,  Down,  which  has  a  fine 
fort  commanding  an  extensive  view;  another  in 
the  parish  of  Durrow,  King's  County ;  and  Tara 
is  the  name  of  a  conspicuous  hill  near  Grorey  in 
Wexford,  on  the  top  of  which  there  is  a  earn. 

There  was  a  celebrated  royal  residence  in  Mun- 
ster,  called  Teamhair-Luachra,  from  the  district 
of  Sliabh  Luachra  or  Slievelougher.  Its  exact 
situation  is  now  unknown,  though  it  is  probable 
that  the  fort  is  still  in  existence;  but  it  must 
have  been  somewhere  near  Ballahantouragh,  a 
ford  giving  name  to  a  townland  near  Castleisland 
in  Kerry,  which  is  called  in  Irish  Bel-atha-an- 
Teamhrach,  the  ford-mouth  of  the  Teamhair.  A 
similar  form  of  the  name  is  found  in  Knockaun- 
touragh,  a  little  hill  near  Kildorrery  in  Cork,  o< 
the  top  of  which  is  a  fort — the  old  Teamhair — 
celebrated  in  the  local  legends  ;  and  in  the  parish 
of  Kiltoom  in  Roscommon,  north-west  of  Athlone, 
there  is  a  place  called  Ratawragh,  the  rath  of  the 
conspicuous  residence. 

There  are  many  other  places  deriving  theii 
names  from  these  teamhairs,  and  to  understand  the 
following  selection,  it  must  be  remembered  thai 
the  word  is  pronounced  tavver,  tawer,  and  totver,  ir 
different  parts  of  the  country.  One  form  is  found 
in  Towerbeg  and  Towermore,  two  townlands  in  ttu 

296  Artificial  Structures.         [PART  in. 

parish  of  Devenish,  Fermanagh. ;  and  there  is  a 
Towermore  near  Castlelyons  in  Cork.  Taur, 
another  modification,  gives  name  to  two  hills 
(-more  and  -beg),  in  the  parish  of  Clonfert,  same 
county.  Tawran,  little  Teamhair  (Teamhrari), 
occurs  in  the  parish  of  Killaraght,  Sligo ;  we  find 
the  same  name  in  the  slightly  different  form 
Tavraun,  in  the  parish  of  Kilmovee,  Mayo  ;  while 
the  diminutive  in  in  gives  name  to  Tevrin  in  the 
parish  of  Rathconnell,  Westmeath. 

Faithche.  In  front  of  the  ancient  Irish  resi- 
dences, there  was  usually  a  level  green  plot,  used 
for  various  purposes — for  games  and  exercises  of 
different  kinds,  for  the  reception  of  visitors,  &c. 
Faithche  [f  aha]  was  the  name  applied  to  this  green ; 
the  word  is  translated  platea  in  Cormac's  Glossary ; 
and  it  is  constantly  used  by  ancient  Irish  writers, 
who  very  frequently  mention  the  faithche  in  con- 
nection with  the  king's  or  chieftain's  fort.  For 
instance,  in  the  feast  of  Dun-na-ngedh  it  is  related 
that  a  visitor  reached  "  Aileach  Neid  (see  p.  293, 
mpra),  where  the  king  held  his  residence  at  that 
time.  The  king  came  out  upon  the  faithche,  sur- 
rounded by  a  great  concourse  of  the  men  of  Erin  ; 
and  he  was  playing  chess  amidst  the  host"  (Battle 
of  Moyrath,  p.  36). 

The  word  is,  and  has  been,  used  to  denote  a 
hurling  field,  or  fair  green,  or  any  level  green 
field  in  which  meetings  were  held,  or  games  cele- 
brated, whether  in  connection  with  a  fort  or  uot ; 
in  the  Irish  version  of  Nennius,  for  instance,  it  is 
applied  to  a  hurling-green.  In  Connaught,  at  the 
present  time,  it  is  universally  understood  to  mean 
simply  a  level  green  field. 

The  word  enters  pretty  extensively  into  names, 
and  it  is  generally  made  Fahy  and  Faha,  the 
former  being  more  usual  in  Connaught,  and  the 

CHAP,  i.]         Habitations  and  Fortresses.  297 

latter  in  Minister ;  both  together  constitute  the 
names  of  about  thirty  townlands.  It  enters  into 
several  compounds,  such  as  Fahanasoodry  near 
Ballylanders  in  Limerick,  Faithche-na-sudaire,  the 
green  of  the  tanners,  where  tanning  must  have 
been  carried  on  ;  Fahykeen  in  Donegal,  beautiful 

The  word  takes  various  other  forms,  of  which 
the  following  names  will  be  a  sufficient  illustration. 
Faheeran  in  the  parish  of  Kilcomreragh,  King's 
County,  is  a  contraction  of  Faithche-Chiarain  [Faha- 
Kieran :  Four  Masters],  Ciaran's  green  plot ;  Faia- 
fannan  near  Killybegs,  Donegal,  Fannan's  green. 
It  is  made  Foy  in  several  places,  as,  for  instance, 
near  Rathangan  in  Kildare ;  in  Armagh  we  find 
Foyduff,  Foybeg,  and  Foymore  (black,  little, 
great),  and  in  Donegal,  Foyfin,  fair  or  whitish 
faithche.  Foygh  occurs  in  Longford  and  Tyrone  ; 
in  Donegal  we  have  Foyagh,  and  in  Fermanagh, 
Fyagh,  both  meaning  a  place  abounding  in  green 

The  townland  of  Dunseverick  in  Antrim,  which 
takes  its  name  from  the  well-known  castle,  is  also 
called  Feigh,  a  name  derived,  no  doubt,  from  the 
faithche  of  the  ancient  dun,  which  existed  ages 
before  the  erection  of  the  castle ;  and  we  may 
conclude  that  the  name  of  Rathfeigh  in  Meath 
(the  fort  of  the  faithche  or  green),  was  similarly 
derived.  The  name  Feigh  occurs  also  in  the  south, 
but  it  is  not  derived  from  faithche.  Ballynafoy  in 
Down,  is  the  town  of  the  green ;  the  same  name  is 
found  in  Antrim,  in  the  forms  Ballynafeigh, 
Ballynafey,  and  Ballynafie ;  and  in  Kildare  we 
find  it  as  Ballynafagh. 

The  word  occurs  with  three  diminutives.  Fahan 
in  Kerry,  and  Fahane  in  Cork,  both  signify  little 
faithche.  Faheens  (little  green  plots),  is  found  in 

298  Artificial  Structures.         [PART  in. 

Mayo  ;  and  there  is  a  lake  not  far  from  the  town 
of  Donegal,  called  Lough  Foyhin,  the  lake  of  the 
little  green.  In  Sligo  we  have  Foyoges,  and  in 
Longford,  Fihoges,  both  having  the  same  meaning 
as  Faheens. 

Mothar.  The  ruin  of  a  caher  or  rath  is  often 
designated  in  Munster  by  the  term  mothar  [mo- 
her]  ;  and  sometimes  the  word  is  applied  to  the 
ruin  of  any  building.  This  is  its  usual  meaning 
in  Clare  ;  but  its  proper  signification  is  "  a  cluster 
of  trees  or  bushes  ;  "  and  in  other  parts  of  Ireland, 
this  is  probably  the  sense  in  which  it  should  be 
interpreted  when  we  find  it  in  local  names.  On  a 
cliff  near  Hag's  Head,  on  the  western  coast  of 
Clare,  there  formerly  stood,  and  perhaps  still  stands 
an  old  caher  or  stone  fort  called  Moher  O'Ruan, 
O'Ruan's  ruined  fort ;  and  this  is  the  feature  that 
gave  name  to  the  well-known  Cliffs  of  Moher. 

The  word  is  used  in  the  formation  of  local 
names  pretty  extensively  in  Munster  and  Con 
naught,  and  in  two  of  the  Ulster  counties,  Cavan 
and  Fermanagh ;  while  in  Leinster  I  find  only 
one  instance  in  the  parish  of  Offerlane,  Queen's 
County.  Scattered  over  this  area,  Moher  is  the 
name  of  about  twenty-five  townlands,  and  it  is 
found  in  combination  in  those  of  many  others. 

The  plural  Mohera  (clusters  or  ruined  forts),  is 
the  name  of  a  townland  near  Castlelyons  in  Cork ; 
and  we  find  the  word  in  Moheracreevy  in  Leitrim, 
the  ruin  or  cluster  of  or  near  the  creeve  or  large 
tree.  In  Cork,  also,  near  Rathcormick,  is  a  place 
called  Mohereen,  little  moher ;  and  Moheragh, 
signifying  a  place  abounding  in  makers,  occurs  in 
the  parish  of  Donohill,  Tipperary.  Moheranea  in 
Fermanagh,  signifies  the  moher  of  the  horse ;  and 
Drummoher  in  Clare,  and  Drommoher  in  Limerick, 
the  ridge  of  the  ruined  fort. 

CHAP,  i.]         Habitations  and  Fortresses.  299 

Crannog.  The  word  crannog ,  a  'formation  from 
crann,  a  tree,  means  literally  a  structure  of  wood. 
In  former  times  the  Anglo-Irish  employed  it  very 
generally  to  signify  a  basket  or  hamper  of  a 
certain  size  for  holding  corn.  In  its  topographical 
use — the  only  use  that  concerns  us  here — it  is 
applied  to  wooden  houses  placed  on  artificial 
islands  in  lakes.  These  islands  were  formed  in  a 
shallow  part,  by  driving  stakes  into  the  bottom, 
which  were  made  to  support  cross  beams ;  and  on 
these  were  heaped  small  trees,  brambles,  clay,  &c., 
till  the  structure  was  raised  over  the  surface  of  the 
water.  On  this  the  family,  and  in  many  cases 
several  families,  lived  in  wooden  houses,  sufficiently 
protected  from  enemies  by  the  surrounding  lake, 
while  communication  with  the  land  was  carried  on 
by  means  of  a  small  boat.  The  word  crannog  was 
very  often,  and  is  now  generally  understood, 
to  mean  the  whole  structure,  both  island  and 

These  lake  dwellings  were  used  from  the  most, 
remote  ages  down  to  the  sixteenth  or  seventeenth 
century,  and  they  are  frequently  mentioned  in  the 
annals.  The  remains  of  many  of  them  have  been 
recently  discovered,  and  have  been  examined  and 
described  by  several  archaeologists.  There  are 
various  places  through  the  country  whose  names 
contain  the  word  crannog,  in  most  of  which  there 
was  a  lake,  with  an  artificial  island,  though  in 
some  cases  the  lakes  have  disappeared. 

Crannoge  is  the  name  of  a  townland  near 
Pomeroy  in  Tyrone  ;  Cronoge,  of  another  in  Kil- 
kenny ;  and  in  the  parish  of  Cloonclare,  Leitrim 
is  a  place  called  Crannoge  Island.  Crannogebo) 
(yellow)  in  the  parish  of  Inishkeel,  Donegal,  was 
once  the  residence  of  one  of  the  O'Boyles.  Cool- 
cronoge,  the  corner  or  angle  of  the  wooden  house, 

300  Artificial  Structures.         [PART  in. 

is  the  name  of  a  place  in  the  parish  of  Ardagh, 
Limerick.  There  is  a  small  lake  near  Ballingarn 
in  the  north  of  Tipperary,  called  Loughnahinch 
(the  lake  of  the  island),  in  which  there  is  a  cran- 
noge  fifty  feet  in  diameter,  which  gave  name  both 
to  the  lake  and  to  the  townland  of  Ballinahinch ; 
and  the  parish  of  Ballinahinch  in  Connemara, 
which  gives  name  to  a  barony,  was  so  called  from 
a  crannoge  on  an  island  in  Ballinahinch  Lake. 
The  Four  Masters  mention  eight  crannoges  in  as 
many  different  parts  of  Ireland. 

Longphort.  This  term  is  in  frequent  use,  and 
generally  signifies  a  fortress,  but  sometimes  an 
encampment.  The  word  was  applied  both  to  the 
old  circular  entrenched  forts  and  to  the  more 
modern  stone  castles ;  and  the  fortresses  bearing 
this  designation  have  given  name  to  all  those 
places  called  Longford,  of  which  there  are  about 
twenty.  The  town  of  Longford  is  called  in  the 
annals  Longford- O'Farrell,  from  the  castle  of  the 
O'Farrells,  the  ancient  proprietors,  which,  ac- 
cording to  tradition,  was  situated  where  the 
military  barrack  now  stands.  The  barony  of 
Longford  in  Roscommon,  takes  its  name  from 
Longford  castle  in  the  parish  of  Tiranascragh. 
Longford  demesne  in  the  parish  of  Dromard. 
county  Sligo,  west  of  Ballysadare,  now  the  pro- 
perty of  the  Crofton  family,  was  formerly  the 
seat  of  the  O'Dowds,  from  whom  it  took  the 
name  of  Longphort-  O'Dowda  ("  Hy  Fiachrach  ") 
O'Dowd's  fortress. 

In  a  few  cases  the  word  is  somewhat  disguised 
in  modern  names,  as  in  Lonart  near  Killorglin  in 
in  Kerry,  which  is  a  mere  softening  of  the  sound 
of  Longphort.  Athlunkard  is  the  name  of  a  town- 
land  near  Limerick,  from  which  Athlunkard-street 
in  the  city  derives  its  name ;  the  correct  angli- 

CHAP.  I.]       Habitations  and  Fortresses.  301 

cised  form  would  be  Athlongford,  the  ford  of  the 
fortress  or  encampment.  And  it  sometimes  takes 
such  forms  as  Lonehort,  Lonehurt,  &c. 

Teach.  This  word  [pron.  tagh~\  means  a  house 
of  any  kind,  and  is  cognate  with  Lat.  tectum ;  it 
was  used  hoth  in  pagan  and  Christian  times,  and 
has  found  its  way  extensively  into  local  names. 
The  best  anglicised  form  is  tagh,  which  is  of  fre- 
quent occurrence,  as  in  Tagheen  a  parish  in  Mayo, 
which  is  called  in  "  Hy  Fiachrach,"  Teach-chaein, 
beautiful  house ;  and  Taghboy,  a  parish  in  Meath, 
yellow  house.  Sometimes  the  final  guttural  was 
omitted,  as  in  Taduff  in  Roscommon,  black  house. 

The  form  tigh  [tee]  is  however  in  more  general 
use  in  the  formation  of  names  than  the  nominative 
(see  p.  33)  ;  and  it  usually  appears  as  tee,  ti,  and 
ty.  Teebane  and  Teemore  (white  and  great  house), 
are  the  names  of  several  townlands  in  the  northern 
counties ;  Tibradden  near  Dublin,  and  Tyone  near 
Nenagh,  Braddan's  and  John's  house. 

When  tigh  is  joined  with  the  genitive  of  thft 
article,  it  almost  always  takes  the  form  of  tin  or 
tinna,  which  we  find  in  the  beginning  of  a  great 
number  of  names.  There  is  a  small  town  in  Car- 
low,  and  several  townlands  in  Wicklow  and 
Queen's  County,  called  Tinnahinch,  which  repre- 
sents the  Irish  Tigh-na-hinns$>  the  house  of  the 
island  or  river  holm  ;  Tincurragh  and  Tincurry  in 
Wexford  and  Tipperary,  the  house  of  the  curragh 
or  marsh ;  Tinnascart  in  Cork  and  Waterf ord,  and 
Tinnascarty  in  Kilkenny,  the  house  of  the  scart  or 
cluster  of  bushes. 

The  site  on  which  a  house  stood  is  often  de- 
noted by  the  combination  ait-tighe  [aut-tee], 
literally,  "  the  place  of  a  house ; "  in  modern 
names  it  is  almost  always  made  atti  or  atty,  which 
form  the  beginning  of  about  sixty  townland  names, 

302  Artificial  Structures.  [PART  in. 

the  latter  part  being  very  often  the  name  of  the 
former  owner  of  the  house.  It  occurs  once  in  the 
Four  Masters  at  1256,  where  they  mention  a  place 
called  Ait-tighe-Mic-Cuimin,  the  site  of  Mac 
Currin's  house. 

Attidermot  near  Aughrim  in  Galway,  signifies 
the  site  of  Dermot's  house ;  Attykit  near  Cashel 
in  Tipperary  of  Ceat's  or  Ket's  house.  In  a  few 
cases,  the  compound  is  followed  by  some  term 
characterising  the  house,  as  in  Attiduff  inMonagh- 
an  and  Sligo,  the  site  of  the  black  house ; 
Attatantee  in  Donegal,  in  Irish  Ait-a'-tsean-tighe, 
the  site  of  the  old  house.  The  word  ait  is  some- 
times used  alone,  to  denote  the  site  of  anything, 
as  in  Atshanbo  in  Tipperary,  the  site  of  the  old 
tent  (both,  a  tent) ;  Attavally,  the  name  of  three 
townlands  in  Mayo,  the  site  of  the  bally  or  village. 

From  the  general  meaning  of  house,  teach  or 
tigh  came  to  be  used  frequently  in  Christian  times 
to  denote  a  church ;  and  hence  the  word  is  often 
joined  to  the  names  of  saints,  to  designate  ecclesi- 
astical foundations,  which  afterwards  gave  names 
to  parishes  and  townlands.  Examples  of  this  occur 
in  Chap.  in.  Part  II. ;  and  I  will  add  a  few  more 

Taghadoe,  a  parish  in  Kildare,  takes  its  name 
from  an  old  church,  which,  however,  has  wholly 
disappeared,  though  a  portion  of  the  round  tower 
still  stands  in  the  churchyard  ;  the  name  is  written 
by  Irish  authorities,  Teach-  Tuae,  St.  Tua's  church. 
Tiaquin  was  originally  the  name  of  a  primitive 
church  in  Galway,  and  it  is  written  in  Irish  Tigh- 
Dachonna  [Teaconna],  St.  Dachonna's  house,  from 
which  the  present  name  was  formed  by  contraction, 
and  by  the  aspiration  of  the  D  (see  p.  20).  A 
castle  was  erected  there  long  afterwards,  from 
which  the  barony  of  Tiaquin  has  been  so  called. 

CHAP,  i.j      Habitations  and  Fortresses.  303 

Timahoe  in  Queen's  County,  well  known  for  its 
beautiful  round  tower,  took  its  name  (Tech-Hochua, 
O'Clery's  Cal.)  from  St.  Mochua,  the  original 
founder  and  patron,  who  flourished  in  the  sixth 
century.  St.  Munna  or  Fintan,  who  died,  A.  D. 
634,  founded  a  monastery  in  Wexford,  which  was 
called  from  him  Teach-Munna  (Book  of  Leinster), 
St.  Munna's  house,  now  modernised  to  Taghmon  ; 
and  the  parish  of  Taghmon  in  Westmeath  de- 
rived its  name  from  the  same  saint.  Tymon,  the 
name  of  a  place  near  Dublin,  containing  an  in- 
teresting castle  ruin,  has  the  same  signification  as 
Taghmon,  but  whether  the  Munna  whom  it  com- 
memorates, is  the  same  as  St.  Munna  of  Taghmon, 
I  cannot  tell. 

This  word  enters  into  various  other  combinations 
in  local  names.  There  is  a  townland  in  the  parish 
of  Lower  Bodoney,  Tyrone,  called  Crockatanty, 
whose  Irish  name  is  Cnoc-a'-tsean-tighe  (see  pp. 
51  and  23,  supra),  the  hill  of  the  old  house  ;  and 
we  see  the  same  form  in  Tullantanty  (Tulach,  a 
hill)  in  Cavan,  and  which  has  also  the  same 
meaning.  Edentiroory  near  Dromore  in  Down, 
means  the  edan  or  hill-brow  of  Rory's  house. 

I  have  already  mentioned  (p.  65)  that  in  some 
of  the  eastern  counties,  s  is  some/  'mes  prefixed  to 
this  word ;  and  in  addition  to  tht-  examples  given 
there,  I  may  mention  Staholmog  in  Meath,  St. 
Colmoc's  or  Mocholmoc's  house  ;  and  Stamullen  in 
the  same  county,  Maelan's  house. 

Both  [boh] .  This  word  signifies  a  tent,  booth, 
or  hut,  and  it  was  applied  not  only  to  the  huts 
erected  for  human  habitation,  but  also  sometimes 
to  cattle-houses.  It  is  an  old  word  in  the  language, 
and  exists  also  in  the  kindred  Keltic  dialects  : — 
Welsh  bod,  Cornish  bod  and  bos.  It  occurs  very 
often  in  our  ancient  authorities ;  and  the  annals 

304  Artificial  Structures.  [PART  in. 

make  mention  of  several  places  whose  names  were 
derived  from  these  huts. 

Templeshanbo  at  the  foot  of  Mount  Leinster  in 
Wexford,  was  anciently  called  Seanboth  [Shan- 
boh],  old  tent  or  hut,  the  prefix  Temple  having 
been  added  in  recent  times.  It  was  also  called 
Seanboth- SinS,  and  Seanboth-Colmain,  from  St. 
Colman  O'Fiachra,  who  was  venerated  there. 
Seanboth-  Sing  signifies  the  old  tent  of  Sin  [Sheen] 
a  woman's  name  belonging  to  the  pagan  ages  ;  and 
it  is  very  probable  that  this  was  its  original  name, 
and  that  St.  Colman,  like  many  other  Irish  saints, 
adopted  it  without  change.  There  is  a  Shanbo  in 
Meath,  a  Shanboe  in  Queen's  County  ;  and  Shan- 
bogh  is  the  name  of  a  parish  in  Kilkenny — all 
different  forms  of  the  same  word.  It  also  appears 
in  Drumshanbo  (the  drum  or  ridge  of  the  old 
tent),  the  name  of  a  village  in  the  parish  of  Kil- 
toghert  Leitrim,  of  a  townland  in  the  parish  of 
Cloone,  same  county,  and  of  another  in  the  parish 
of  Kildress,  Tyrone.  This  name  is  popularly  be- 
lieved— in  my  opinion  erroneously — to  signify 
"  the  ridge  of  the  old  cow  "  (bo,  a  cow),  from  the 
resemblance  of  the  outline  of  the  hill  at  each 
place,  to  a  cow's  back.. 

Bough,  which  is  merely  an  adaptation  of  Both, 
is  the  name  of  a  townland  in  Carlow,  and  of 
another  in  Monaghan.  Raphoe  in  Donegal  is 
called  in  the  annals  Rath-both,  the  fort  of  the 
huts.  In  the  Tripartite  Life  it  is  related  that 
while  St.  Patrick  was  at  Dagart  in  the  territory  of 
Magdula,  he  founded  seven  churches,  of  which 
Both-Domhnaigh  (the  tent  of  the  church)  was  one; 
which  name  is  still  retained  in  the  parish  of  Bo- 
doney  in  Tyrone.  There  is  an  old  church  near 
Dungiven  in  Londonderry,  which  in  various  Irish 
authorities  is  called  Both-Mheidhbhc  [Veva]. 

CHAP,  i.]       Habitations  and  Fortresses.  305 

Maive's  hut,  an  old  pagan  name  which  is  now 
modernised  to  Bovevagh.  Bohola,  a  parish  in 
Mayo,  takes  its  name  from  a  church  now  in  ruins, 
which  is  called  in  " Hy  Fiachrach,"  Both-Thola, 
St.  Tola's  tent ;  and  in  the  parish  of  Templeniry, 
Tipperary,  there  is  a  townland  called  Montanavoe,^ 
in  Irish  Mointedn-a'-boith,  the  boggy  land  of  the 

We  have  the  plural  (botha)  represented  by  Boho, 
a  parish  in  Fermanagh,  which  is  only  a  part  of  its 
name  as  given  by  the  Four  Masters,  viz.,  the 
Botha  or  tents  of  Muintir  Fialain,  this  last  being 
the  name  of  the  ancient  tribe  who  inhabited  the 
district :  Bohaboy  in  Galway,  yellow  tents. 

Almost  all  local  names  in  Ireland  beginning 
with  Boh  (except  the  Bohers],  and  those  also  that 
end  with  -boha  and  -bohy,  are  derived  from  this 
word.  Thus  Bohullion  in  Donegal  represents  th« 
Irish  Both-chuillinn,  the  ha  it  of  the  holly,  i.  e. 
surrounded  with  holly-trees.  Knockboha,  a  famous 
hill  in  the  parish  of  Lackan,  Mayo,  is  called  in 
"  Hy  Fiachrach,"  Cnoc-botha,  the  hill  of  the  hut ; 
and  Knocknaboha  in  Limerick  and  Tipperary,  has 
the  same  meaning. 

There  are  two  diminutives  of  this  word,  viz., 
Bothdn  and  Bothog  [bohaun,  bohoge],  both  of 
which  are  in  very  common  use  in  the  south  and 
west  of  Ireland,  even  among  speakers  of  English, 
to  denote  a  cabin  or  hut  of  any  kind.  Bohaun 
is  the  name  of  four  townlands  in  Galway  and 
Mayo  ;  and  we  find  Bohanboy  (yellow  little  hut) 
in  Donegal.  The  other,  Bohoge,  is  the  name  of 
a  townland  in  the  parish  of  Manulla,  Mayo. 

Caislen.  The  woid  caislen  or  caislean  [cashlaun] 
is  applied  to  a  castle  ;  and  like  caiseal,  it  is  evi- 
dently a  loan-word — a  diminutive  formation  from 
the  Latin  castellum.  Like  the  older  duns>  cabers,  &c., 
voi,.  i.  21 

30G  Artificial  Structures  [PABT  m 

these  more  modern  structures  gave  names  to  nu- 
merous places,  and  the  word  is  almost  always 
represented  by  the  English  word  castle. 

Of  the  names  containing  this  word,  far  the 
greater  number  are  purely  Irish,  notwithstanding 
the  English  look  of  the  word  castle.  Castlereagh 
"is  a  small  town  in  Roscommon,  which  gives  name 
to  a  barony.  The  castle,  of  which  there  are  now 
no  remains,  stood  on  the  west  side  of  the  town,  and 
it  is  called  by  the  Four  Masters,  Caislen-riabhach, 
grey  castle.  There  is  a  barony  in  Down  of  the 
same  name,  which  was  so  called  from  an  old  castle, 
a  residence  of  a  branch  of  the  O'Neills,  which 
stood  on  a  height  in  the  townland  of  Castlereagh 
near  Belfast ;  and  some  half  dozen  townlands  in 
different  counties  are  called  by  this  name,  so  des- 
criptive of  the  venerable  appearance  of  an  ancient 
castle.  Castlebar  in  Mayo  belonged,  after  the 
English  invasion,  to  the  Barrys,  one  of  whom  no 
doubt  built  a  castle  there,  though  the  name  is  the 
only  record  we  have  of  the  event.  It  is  called  in 
Irish  authorities,  Caislen-an-Bharraigh  (Barry's 
castle)  ;  and  Downing,  who  wrote  a  short  descrip- 
tion of  Mayo  in  1680,  calls  it  Castle  Barry,  which 
has  been  shortened  to  the  present  name. 

In  a  few  cases,  the  Irish  form  is  preserved,  as 
for  example  in  Cashlan,  the  name  of  two  town- 
lands  in  Monaghan,  and  of  one  in  Antrim;  Cash- 
laundarragh  in  Galway,  the  castle  of  the  oak-tree ; 
Cashlancran  in  Mayo,  the  castle  of  the  trees ; 
BaLycushlane  in  "Wexford,  the  town  of  the  castle. 

Daingean.  The  word  daingean  [dangan]  as  an 
adjective,  means  strong;  as  a  noun  it  means  a 
stronghold  of  any  kind,  whether  an  ancient  cir- 
cular fort,  or  a  more  modern  fortress  or  castle ; 
and  it  is  obviously  connected  with  the  English 
words  dungeon  and  donjon.  Dangan,  which  is  the 

CHAP.  I.]       Habitations  and  Fortresses.  307 

correct  English  form,  is  the  name  of  a  village 
in  Kilkenny,  and  of  a  number  of  townlands,  in- 
cluding Dangan  in  Meath,  once  the  residence  of 
the  Duke  of  Wellington.  This  was  also  the  old 
name  of  Philipstown;  the  erection  of  "  the  castle  of 
Daingean  "  is  recorded  by  the  Four  Masters  at 
1546  ;  but  it  is  probable  that  the  name  is  older 
than  the  castle,  and  that  it  had  been  previously 
borne  by  a  circular  fort.  The  name  of  Dun- 
danion  at  Blackrock  near  Cork,  is  like  that  of 
Dunluce  (p.  277,  supra] ;  for  dun  is  here  an  adjec- 
tive, and  the  name  signifies  strong  dangan  01 

Occasionally  this  word  is  anglicised  Dingin, 
\vhich  is  the  name  of  a  townland  in  Cavan  ;  Ding- 
ma  vanty  in  the  parish  of  Kildrumsherdan  in 
this  county,  means  Mantagh's  fortress.  It  is  this 
form  which  has  given  origin  to  the  modern  name 
of  Dingle  in  Kerry,  by  the  usual  change  of  final  i 
to  n  (Dingin,  Dingell,  Dingle  :  see  p.  48).  It  is 
called  in  the  annals,  Daingean-ui-  Chuis,  now  usually 
written  Dingle-I-Coush,  i.  e.  the  fortress  oi 
O'Cush,  the  ancient  proprietor  before  the  English 
invasion.  These  people  sometimes  call  themselves 
Hussey  in  English,  and  this  is  the  origin  of  the 
mistaken  assertion  made  by  some  writers,  that  the 
place  received  its  name  from  the  English  family  of 

In  the  north  of  Ireland  the  ng  in  the  middle  of 
the  word  daingean,  is  pronounced  as  a  soft  guttural, 
which  as  it  is  very  faint,  and  quite  incapable  of 
being  represented  by  English  letters,  is  suppressed 
in  modern  spelling,  thereby  changing  daingean  to 
dian  or  some  such  form.  There  are  >me  town- 
lands  called  Dian  and  Dyan  in  Tyrone  andMonagh- 
an;  two  in  Armagh  and  one  in  Down,  called 
Lisadian,  the  Us  of  the  stronghold.  Even  in  Mayo, 

308  Artificial  Structures.  [PART  in. 

a  pronunciation  much  the  same  is  sometimes  heard ; 
and  hence  we  have  the  name  of  Ballindine,  a 
village  in  that  county,  the  same  as  Ballindagny  in 
Longford,  Ballindaggan  in  Wexford,  and  Ballin- 
dangan  near  Mitchelstown  in  Cork,  the  town  of 
the  stronghold.  Elsewhere  in  Mayo,  however,  the 
word  retains  its  proper  form  as  in  Killadangan, 
the  wood  of  the  fortress. 

Badhun,  or  Badhbhdhun  [bawn].  Beside  many 
of  the  old  castles,  there  was  a  baicn  or  large  en- 
closure surrounded  by  a  strong  fence  or  wall, 
which  was  often  protected  by  towers ;  and  into 
this  enclosure  the  cattle  were  driven  by  night  to 
protect  them  from  wolves  or  robbers.  It  corres- 
ponds to  the  faithche  of  the  old  pagan  fortresses 
(see  p.  296),  and  served  much  the  same  purposes  ; 
for  as  Smith  remarks,  speaking  of  the  castle  of 
Kilcrea,  west  of  Cork,  "  the  bawn  was  the  only 
appendage  formerly  to  great  men's  castles,  which 
places  were  used  for  dancing,  goaling,  and  such 
diversions  and  for  keeping  cattle  at 


O'Donovan,  writing  in  the  "  Ulster  Journal  of 
Archaeology,"  says: — "The  term  bawn,  which 
frequently  appears  in  documents  relating  to  Irish 
history  since  the  plantation  of  Ulster,  is  the  angli- 
cised form  of  the  Irish  badhun,  an  enclosure  or 
fortress  for  cows.  It  occurs  seldom  in  Irish  docu- 
ments, the  earliest  mention  of  a  castle  so  called 
being  found  in  the  '  Four  Masters'  at  1547,  viz. 
Badhun-Riaganach*  From  this  forward  it  is  met 
with  in  different  parts  of  Ireland.  In  the  most 
ancient  Irish  documents,  a  cow  fortress  is  more 
usually  called  bo-dhaingean,  but  bo-dhun  or  ba-ahun 

*  The  word  occurs,  however,  in  the  form  of  bo-dhun  in  the 
Annals  of  Lough  Ce  at  the  years  1199  and  1200. 

CHAP.  I.]       Habitations  and  Fortresses.  309 

is  equally  correct.  Sometimes  written  Badhbh- 
dhun,  the  fortress  of  Badhbh  [Bauv],  the  Bellona 
of  the  ancient  Irish,  but  this  is  probably  a  fanciful 
writing  of  it."  This  latter  form,  however,  and 
its  presumed  derivation  from  the  name  of  the  old 
war  goddess,  receives  some  support  from  the  fact, 
that  in  Ulster  it  is  pronounced  bauvan,  in  which 
the  v  plainly  points  to  a  bh  in  the  Irish  original ; 
and  this  pronunciation  is  perpetuated  in  Bavan, 
the  name  of  three  townlands  in  Down ,  Cavan,  and 

The  bawn»  may  still  be  seen  near  the  ruins  of 
many  of  the  old  castles  through  the  country ;  and 
in  some  cases  the  surrounding  wall,  with  its  towers, 
remains  in  tolerable  preservation.  The  syllable 
bawn  is  of  very  usual  occurrence  in  local  names, 
but  as  this  is  also  the  anglicised  form  of  ban  a 
green  field,  it  is  often  difficult  to  tell  f :  oin  which 
of  the  two  Irish  words  it  is  derived,  for  badhun 
and  ban  are  pronounced  nearly  alike.  The  town- 
land  of  Bawn  in  the  parish  of  Moydow,  Longford, 
derives  its  name  from  the  bawn  of  Moydow  castle, 
whose  ruins  remain  yet  in  the  townland. 

Lathrach.  The  site  of  anything  is  denoted  by 
the  word  lathrach  [lauragh],  but  this  word  is 
usually  applied  to  the  site  of  some  sort  of  building. 
Lathrach  senmuilind  (H.  3.  18,  T.  C.  D.),  the  site 
of  an  old  mill.  There  are  many  places  scattered 
through  the  four  provinces  called  Laragh  and 
Lauragh,  to  which  this  word  gives  name ;  Laragh 

*  Duald  Mac  Firbis  writes  the  word  badhbh-dhun  in  "  Hy- 
Fiachrach."  Boa  Island,  in  Lough  Erne,  is  called  by  the  Four 
Masters  Badhbha,  while  the  natives  call  it  Inis-Badhbhan,  i.  e. 
the  island  of  Badhbh.  Mr.  W.  M.  Hennessy's  paper — read  a 
short  time  since — "  On  the  War-Goddess  of  the  Ancient  Irish," 
it  not  yet  published,  and  I  regret  not  being  able  to  avail  my- 
self of  it  to  illustrate  more  fully  this  interesting  subject. 

310  Artificial  Ktnicftires.          T^AKT  in. 

in  the  parish  of  Skreen  in  Sligo,  is  called  Lathrach 
in  the  Book  of  Lecan,  and  the  village  of  Laragh 
at  the  entrance  to  CHendalough  is  another  well- 
known  example.  Laraghaleas  in  Londonderry 
means  the  site  of  the  Us  or  fort  ;  Laraghshankill 
in  Armagh,  the  site  of  the  old  church  (see  Shan- 
kill)  ;  Laraghbryan  near  Leixlip  in  Kildare, 
Bryan's  house  site.  Caherlarhig,  the  stone  fort  of 
the  site,  near  Clonakilty  in  Cork,  very  probably 
derived  its  name  from  a  caher,  built  on  the  site  of 
a  more  ancient  dun. 

Lathair  [lauher],  from  which  lathrach  is  derived, 
and  which  literally  means  "presence,"  is  itself 
sometimes  used  in  Cork  and  Kerry  to  signify  a 
site,  and  is  found  also  forming  a  part  of  names  in 
these  counties.  Laheratanvally  near  Skibbereen 
in  Cork,  the  site  of  the  old  town  (Lathair-a  '- 
tseanbhaile)  ;  Lahertidaly  in  the  same  neighbour- 
hood, the  site  of  Daly's  house.  Laracor  near  Trim 
in  Meath,  once  the  residence  of  Dean  Swift,  ia 
called  in  an  Inq.  of  Jac.  I.  Laraghcorre,  which 
points  to  the  original  Irish  form  Lat'<rack-cora, 
the  site  of  the  weir.  "We  find  the  diminutive 
Lareen  in  Leitrim,  and  Lerhin  in  Galway  ;  Lis- 
larheen  (-more  and  -beg)  in  Clare,  signifies  the 
fort  of  the  little  site. 

Laragh  in  the  parish  of  Kilcumreragh,  West- 
meath,  takes  its  name  from  a  castle  of  the  Mageo- 
ghegans,  whose  ruins  are  yet  there,  and  which  the 
Four  Masters  call  Leath-rath  [Lara],  i.  e.  half 
rath  ;  and  some  of  the  other  Laraghs  are  probably 
derived  from  this  Irish  compound,  and  not  from 
lathrach.  Leath-rath  is  also  the  Irish  name  of 
Lara  or  Abbeylara  in  Longford,  for  so  it  is  written 
in  the  annals. 

Suidhe  f  see].  This  word  means  a  seat  or  sitting 
place,  cognate  with  Lat.  sedes  ;  it  is  found  in  our 

CHAP.  T.]        Habitations  and  Fortresses.  31] 

oldest  authorities ;  and  among  others,  the  MSS. 
of  Zeuss  (Gram.  Celt.  p.  60).  It  is  frequently 
used  in  the  formation  of  names,  usually  under  the 
forms  see,  sy,  se,  and  sea  ;  and  these  four  syllables, 
in  the  sense  of  "  seat,"  begin  the  names  of  over 
thirty  townlands.  It  is  very  commonly  followed 
by  a  personal  name,  which  is  generally  understood 
to  mean  that  the  place  so  designated  was  fre- 
quented by  the  person,  either  as  a  residence,  or  as 
a  favourite  resort.  The  names  of  men,  both  pagan 
and  Christian,  are  found  combined  with  it. 

See,  which  exactly  represents  suidhe  in  pronun- 
ciation, is  the  name  of  a  townland  in  Cavan.  On 
the  south  shore  of  Lough  Derg  in  Donegal,  is  the 
townland  Seadavog,  the  seat  of  St.  Davog,  the 
patron  of  Termondavog,  or  as  it  is  now  called 
Termonmagrath.  In  this  name  the  word  sea  is 
understood  in  its  literal  sense,  for  the  people  still 
show  the  stone  chair  in  which  the  saint  was  wont 
to  sit. 

The  parish  of  Seagoe  in  Armagh,  is  called  in 
Irish  Suidhe- Gobha  [See-gow],  the  seat  of  St. 
Gobha  (Gow)  or  Gobanus;  Colgan  calls  him 
"  Gobanus  of  Teg-da-Goba,  at  the  bank  of  the 
river  Bann ;"  from  which  expression  it  appears 
that  the  place  was  anciently  called  Tech-Dagobha, 
the  house  of  St.  Dagobha,  this  last  name  being  the 
same  as  Gobanus  (p.  148,  note,  supra ;  see  Reeves's 
Eccl.  Ant,  p.  107) ;  and  the  parish  of  Seapatrick 
x^n  Down,  is  called  in  Trais.  Thaum.  Suid/te- 
Padruic,  St.  Patrick's  sitting-place 

Shiurone  in  the  King's  County  is  mentioned  by 
the  Four  Masters,  who  call  it  Suidhe- an-roin  [Seen- 
rone] ,  the  seat  of  the  ron,  i.  e.  literally  a  seal,  but 
figuratively  a  hirsute  or  hairy  man.  In  the  same 
authority  we  find  Seeoranin  Cavan,  written  Suidhe- 
Qdhrain.  Odhran's  or  Oran's  seat.  Seeconglass  in 

312  Artificial  Structures-  [PART  in. 

Limerick,  Cuglas's  seat ;  Syunchin  near  Clogher 
in  Tyrone,  the  seat  of  the  ash,  i.  e.  abounding  in 

Suidheachdn  [seehaun]  is  a  diminutive  formation 
on  suid/ie,  which  we  also  find  occasionally  in  names. 
For  instance,  there  is  a  hill  called  Seeghane  (the 
seat)  near  Tallaght  in  Dublin ;  Seehanes  (seats)  is 
the  name  of  a  place  near  Dromdaleague  in  Cork, 
so  called  because  it  was  the  seat  of  0' Donovan  ; 
and  Seeaghandoo  and  Seeaghanbane  (black  and 
white),  are  two  townlands  in  Mayo. 



IT  is  well  known  that  most  of  the  terms  employed 
in  Irish  to  designate  Christian  structures,  cere- 
monies, and  offices,  are  derived  directly  from 
Latin.  The  early  missionaries,  finding  no  suitable 
words  in  the  native  language,  introduced  the 
necessary  Latin  terms,  which,  in  course  of  time, 
were  more  or  less  considerably  modified  according 
to  the  laws  of  Irish  pronunciation.  Those  applied 
to  buildings  are  noticed  in  this  chapter ;  but  we 
have  besides  such  words  as  easpog,  old  Irish  epscof, 
a  bishop,  from  episcopus ;  sagart  or  sacart,  a  priest, 
from  sacerdos ;  beannacht,  old  Irish  bendacht,  a 
blessing,  from  benedictio ;  Aiffrionn  or  Aiffrend, 
the  Mass,  from  offerenda ;  and  many  others.  (See 
Second  Volume,  Chaps,  vi.  and  xxvi.) 

We  know  from  many  ancient  authorities  that 
the  early  Irish  churches  were  usually  built  of 
timber  planks,  or  of  wattles  or  hurdles,  plastered 
over  with  clay ;  and  that  this  custom  was  so  gene- 

CHAP.  IT.]         Eccksinstfaal  Edifice*.  313 

ral  as  to  be  considered  a  national  characteristic. 
Bede,  for  instance,  mentions  that  when  Finan,  an 
Irish  monk,  became  bishop  of  Lindisfarne,  "  he 
built  a  church  fit  for  his  episcopal  see ;  he  made 
it  not,  however,  of  stone,  but  altogether  of  sawn 
oak,  and  covered  it  with  reeds,  after  the  manner 
of  the  Scots"  (Hist.  Eccl.,  III.  25) ;  and  many 
other  authorities  to  the  same  effect  might  be  cited. 
In  some  of  the  lives  of  the  early  saints,  we  have 
interesting  accounts  of  the  erection  of  structures 
of  this  kind,  very  often  by  the  hands  of  the  eccle- 
siastics themselves — accounts  that  present  beau- 
tiful pictures  of  religious  devotion  and  humility ; 
for  the  heads  of  the  communities  often  worked 
with  their  own  hands,  in  building  up  their  simple 
churches — men  who  were,  for  long  ages  after- 
wards, and  are  still,  venerated  for  their  learning 
and  holiness. 

These  structures,  often  put  up  hastily  to  meet 
the  wants  of  a  newly  formed  religious  community, 
or  the  recently  converted  natives  of  a  district,  we 
know  were  generally  very  small  and  simple  ;  and 
in  some  cases  the  names  preserve  the  memory  of 
the  primitive  materials.  Kilclief  in  the  county 
of  Down,  took  its  name  from  one  of  those  rude 
edifices;  for  its  Irish  name,  as  used  by  several 
authorities,  is  Citt-ckithe  [cleha],  the  hurdle  church 
(cliath  a  hurdle),  from  which  the  present  form  has 
been  derived  by  the  change  of  th  to  /(p.  52).  The 
same  name  is  found  as  Kilclay  near  Clogher  in 
Tyrone ;  and  a  parish  in  Westmeath,  called  Kil- 
cleagh  (Killcliathagh  in  Reg.  Clon.),  exhibits 
another,  and  still  more  correct  form. 

But  timber  was  not  the  only  material  employed ; 
for  stone  churches  began  to  be  erected  from  the 
earliest  Christian  period.  It  was  believed,  indeed, 
until  very  recently,  that  buildings  of  stone  and 

314  Artificial  Structures.         [PART  in 

mortar  were  unknown  in  Ireland  previous  to  the 
Anglo-Norman  invasion;  but  Petrie  has  shown 
that  churches  of  stone  were  erected  in  the  fifth, 
sixth,  and  succeeding  centuries ;  and  the  ruins  of 
many  of  these  venerable  structures  are  still  to  be 
seen,  and  have  been  identified  as  the  very  build- 
ings erected  by  the  early  saints. 

Gill.  The  Irish  words,  till,  eaglais,  teamputt, 
domhnach,  &c. — all  originally  Latin — signify  a 
church.  Gill  (kill),  also  written  cell  and  ceall,  is 
the  Latin  cella,  and  next  to  baile,  it  is  the  most 
prolific  root  in  Irish  names.  Its  most  usual  angli- 
cised form  is  kill  or  kil,  but  it  is  also  made  kyle, 
keel,  and  cal ;  there  are  about  3,400  names  begin- 
ning with  these  syllables,  and  if  we  estimate  that 
a  fifth  of  them  represent  coill,  a  wood,  there  remain 
about  2,700  whose  first  syllable  is  derived  from 
till.  Of  these  the  greater  number  are  formed  by 
-placing  the  name  of  the  founder  or  patron  after 
this  word,  of  which  I  give  a  few  illustrative  ex- 
amples here,  but  many  more  will  be  found  scattered 
through  the  book. 

Colnian  was  a  favourite  name  among  the  Irish 
saints;  O'Clery's  Calendar  alone  commemorates 
about  sixty  of  the  name.  It  is  radically  the  same 
as  Colum  or  Columba,  and  its  frequency  is  prob- 
ably to  be  attributed  to  veneration  for  the  great 
St.  Columba.  There  are  in  Ireland  seven  parishes, 
and  more  than  twenty  townlands  (including 
Spenser's  residence  in  Cork)  called  Kilcolman 
(Colman's  church) ;  but  in  many  of  these  it  is  now 
difficult  or  impossible  to  determine  the  individual 
saints  after  whom  they  were  called.  St.  Cainnech 
or  Canice,  who  gave  name  to  Kilkenny,  and  also  to 
Kilkenny  "West,  in  Westmeath,  was  abbot  of  Agh- 
abo  in  Queen's  County,  where  he  had  his  principal 
church ;  he  is  mentioned  by  Adamnan  in  his  Lif  o 

CHAP  ii.]         Ecclesiastical  Isdifices,  315 

of  St.  Columba ;  he  was  born  in  A.D.  517,  and  died 
in  the  year  600.  He  was  a  native  of  the  territory 
of  Keenaght  in  Derry,  and  he  is  much  venerated 
in  Scotland,  where  he  is  called  Kenneth ;  and 
several  churches  in  Argyle  and  in  the  Western 
Islands,  now  called  Kilkenneth  and  Kilkenzie, 
were  named  from  him.  There  are  thirty-five 
townlands  and  parishes  scattered  through  the  four 
provinces,  called  Kilbride,  in  Irish  CUl-Bhrighde, 
Brigid's  or  Bride's  church,  most  of  which  were 
dedicated  to  St.  Brigid  of  Kildare  ;  and  Kilbreedy, 
the  name  of  two  parishes  in  Limerick,  has  the 
same  origin.  Kilmurry  is  the  name  of  nearly  fifty 
townlands,  in  most  of  which  there  must  have  been 
churches  dedicated  to  the  Blessed  Virgin,  for  the 
usual  Irish  name  is  Cill-Mhuire,  Mary's  church; 
but  some  may  have  been  so  called  from  persons 
named  Muireadhach. 

Besides  the  names  of  saints,  this  term  is  com- 
bined with  various  other  words,  to  form  local 
names.  Shankill,  in  Irish  Seincheall,  old  church, 
is  the  name  of  seventeen  townlands  and  four 
parishes,  among  others  the  parish  which  includes 
Belfast.  There  is  a  village  in  Kildare  called  Kil- 
cullen,  which  was  much  celebrated  for  its  monas- 
tery ;  it  is  called  by  Irish  writers  Cill-cuilUnn,  the 
church  of  the  holly ;  and  there  are  several  town- 
lands  in  other  counties  of  the  same  name.  At 
Killeigh  near  Tullamore,  there  was  once  a  great 
ecclesiastical  establishment,  under  the  patronage 
of  St.  Sincheall.  Its  original  name,  as  used  in 
Irish  authorities,  is  Cill-achaidh  [Killahy],  the 
church  of  the  field,  which  has  been  softened  down 
to  the  present  form.  There  was,  according  to 
Colgan,  another  place  of  the  same  name  in  East 
Brefney ;  and  to  distinguish  them,  Killeigh  in 
King's  County  is  usually  called  by  the  annalists 

316  Artificial  Structures,         £PAIIT  in. 

Cill-achaidh-droma-fada,  i.  e.  Killeigh  of  Drumfada, 
from  a  long  ridge  or  hill  which  rises  immediately 
over  the  village. 

Kyle,  a  form  much  used  in  the  south,  is  itself 
the  name  of  more  than  twenty  townlands,  and  con- 
stitutes the  first  syllable  of  about  eighty  others  ;  a 
large  proportion  of  these,  however,  probably  half, 
are  not  churches  but  woods  (coill).  In  some  parts 
of  the  south,  Kyle  is  used  to  denote  a  burial-place 
for  children,  and  sometimes  for  unbaptised  infants, 
but  this  is  a  modern  application. 

The  diminutive  KiUeen  is  the  name  of  about 
eighty  townlands,  and  its  combinations  are  very 
numerous — all  derived  from  a  "  little  church/' 
except  about  a  fifth  from  "  woods."  Killeentierna 
in  Kerry  must  have  been  founded  by,  or  dedicated 
to,  some  saint  named  Tierna,  or  Tighernach.  Kil- 
leens  and  Killeeny,  little  churches,  are  also  often 
met  with.  Monagilleeny  near  Ardmore  in  Water- 
ford,  is  in  Irish  Moin-na-gcillinidhe,  the  bog  of  the 
little  churches. 

Calluragh,  or  as  it  is  written  in  Irish,  Ceallu- 
rach,  which  is  a  derivative  from  till,  is  applied  in 
the  southern  counties,  and  especially  in  Clare,  to 
an  old  burying-ground ;  sometimes  it  means  a 
burial-place  disused,  except  only  for  the  interment 
of  children ;  and  occasionally  it  denotes  a  burial- 
place  for  unbaptised  infants,  even  where  there 
never  was  a  church  ;  as  for  example,  in  the  parish 
of  Kilcrohane  in  Kerry,  where  the  old  forts  or 
lisses  are  sometimes  set  apart  for  this  purpose,  and 
called  Callooraghs.  In  the  anglicised  form,  Callu- 
ragh, this  word  has  given  name  to  several  town- 

Cealtrach  [caltragh],  which  is  also  a  derivative 
from  till>  is  used — chiefly  in  the  western  half  of 
Ireland — to  denote  an  old  burying-ground.  It  is 

CHAP,  ii.]         Ecclesiastical  Edifices.  317 

commonly  anglicised  Caltragh,  which  is  the  name 
of  a  great  many  places  ;  and  there  is  a  village  in 
Galway  called  Caltra,  another  modification  of  the 
same  word.  We  find  Cloonacaltry  in  Sligo  and 
Roscommon,  the  cloon  or  meadow  of  the  burying- 
ground.  Cealdrach  [caldragh],  another  Irish 
form,  gives  name  to  eight  townlands,  now  called 
Caldragh,  which  are  confined  to  six  counties,  with 
Leitrim  as  centre  ;  in  one  case  it  is  made  Keeldra 
in  the  last  county. 

Eaglais.  Another  term  for  a  church  is  eaglais 
[aglish],  derived,  in  common  with  the  Welsh 
eccluis,  the  Cornish  eglos,  and  the  Armoric  ylis, 
from  the  Latin  ecclesia.  This  term  was  applied 
to  a  great  many  churches  in  Ireland  ;  for  we  have 
a  considerable  number  of  parishes  and  townlands 
called  Aglish  and  Eglish,  the  former  being  more 
common  in  the  south,  and  the  latter  in  the  north. 
There  is  a  parish  in  Tipperary  called  Aglishclogh- 
ane,  the  church  of  the  cloghaun  or  row  of  step- 
ping-stones ;  another  in  Limerick  called  Aglish- 
cormick,  St.  Cormac's  church ;  and  a  third  in 
Cork,  called  Aglishdrinagh,  the  church  of  the 
dreem  or  sloe-bushes.  BaUynahaglish,  the  town  of 
the  church,  is  the  name  of  a  parish  in  Mayo,  and 
of  another  in  Kerry;  and  near  Ballylanders  in 
Limerick,  is  a  place  called  Grlennahaglish,  the  glen 
of  the  church.  In  the  corrupt  form  Heagles,  it  is 
the  name  of  two  townlands  near  Ballymoney  in 
Antrim  ;  and  in  the  same  neighbourhood  we  find 
Drumaheglis,  the  ridge  or  long  hill  of  the  church. 

Teampull.  From  the  Latin  templum  is  derived 
the  Irish  teampull.  Like  till,  eaglais,  and  domhnach, 
it  was  adopted  at  a  very  early  date,  being  found  in 
the  oldest  Irish  MSS.,  among  others  those  cited  by 
Zeuss.  In  anglicised  names  it  is  usually  changed 
to  temple,  which  forms  the  beginning  of  about 

318  Artificial  Structures.  [PART  in. 

ninety  townland  names  ;  and  it  is  to  be  borne  in 
mind  that  these,  though  to  all  appearance  at  least 
partly  English,  are  in  reality  wholly  Irish.  A  re- 
markably large  proportion  of  parishes  have  taken 
their  names  from  these  teampulls,  there  being  no 
less  than  fifty  parish  names  beginning  with  the 
word  temple. 

There  are  four  parishes  in  Cork,  Longford,  Tip- 
perary,  and  Waterf ord,  where  the  original  churches 
must  have  been  dedicated  to  the  Archangel 
Michael,  as  they  still  bear  the  name  of  Temple- 
michael ;  Templebredon  in  Tipperary,  is  called  in 
Irish  Teampull-ui-Bhridedin,  O'Bredon's  church  ; 
and  Temple-etneyin  the  same  county,  was  so  called 
from  St.  Eithne,  whose  memory  is  fast  dying  out 
there.  The  original  church  of  Templecarn,  not 
far  from  Pettigo  in  Donegal,  must  have  been  built 
near  a  pagan  sepulchre,  for  the  name  signifies  the 
church  of  the  earn  or  monument.  Templetuohy 
in  Tipperary  signifies  the  church  of  the  tuath  or 
territory,  and  it  received  this  name  as  having  been 
the  principal  church  of  the  tuath  or  district  in 
which  it  was  situated.  A  cathedral,  or  any  large 
or  important  church,  was  sometimes  called,  by  way 
of  distinction,  Templemore,  great  church ;  and  this 
is  the  name  of  three  parishes  in  Londonderry, 
Mayo,  and  Tipperary,  the  first  including  the  city 
of  Deny,  and  the  last  the  town  of  Templemore. 

Domhnach.  The  Irish  word  domhnach  [dow- 
nagh],  which  signifies  a  church,  and  also  Sunday, 
is  from  the  Latin  Dominica,  the  Lord's  day.  Ac- 
cording to  the  Tripartite  Life,  Jocelin,  Ussher, 
&c.,  all  the  churches  that  bear  the  name  of  Domhn- 
achy  or  in  the  anglicised  form,  Donagh,  were 
originally  founded  by  St.  Patrick  ;  and  they  were 
so  called  because  he  marked  out  their  foundations 
on  Sunday.  For  example,  in  the  Tripartite  Life 

CHAP.  ii.J         Ecclesiastical  Edifices.  319 

we  are  told  that  the  saint  "  having  remained  for 
seven  Sundays  in  Cianachta,  laid  the  foundations 
of  seven  sacred  houses  to  the  Lord ;  [each  of] 
which  he  therefore  called  Dominica,"  i.  e.  in  Irish 
Domhnach.  Shanonagh  in  the  parish  of  Temple- 
oran  in  Westmeath,  is  called  Sendonagh,  in  Sir 
Robert  Nugent' s  Patent,  and  explained  in  it  "  Old 
Sonday,"  but  it  properly  means  "  Old  Church." 

In  the  year  439,  while  St.  Patrick  was  in  Con- 
naught,  his  nephew,  bishop  Sechnall  or  Secundi- 
nus,  arrived  in  Ireland  in  company  with  some 
others.  He  was  the  son  of  Restitutus  the  Lombard 
by  St.  Patrick's  sister  Liemania  or  Darerca  (see  p. 
95,  supra],  and  very  soon  after  he  was  left  by  his 
uncle  in  Meath.  The  church  founded  for  him, 
where  he  resided  till  his  death  in  448,  was  called 
from  him  Domhnach-  Sechnaill  [Donna-Shaugh- 
nill:  Leabhar  Breac],  the  church  of  St.  Sechnall, 
now  shortened  to  Dunshaughlin,  which  is  the  name 
of  a  village  and  parish  in  the  county  Meath. 

There  are  nearly  forty  townlands  whose  names 
are  formed  by,  or  begin  with,  Donagh  of  which 
more  than  twenty  are  also  parish  names.  In 
all  these  places  there  must  have  been  one  of 
the  primitive  Dominicas,  and  most  of  them  have 
burial-places  and  ruins  to  this  day;  fourteen  of 
the  parishes  are  called  Donaghmore,  great  church. 
Donaghanie  near  Clogherny  in  Tyrone,  is  called 
by  the  Four  Masters,  Domhnach-an-eich,  the 
church  of  the  steed ;  according  to  the  same  autho- 
rity, the  proper  name  of  Donaghmoyne  in  Mon- 
aghan,  is  Domhnach-maighin,  the  church  of  the 
little  plain  ;  and  there  is  a  place  of  the  same  name 
near  Clogher  in  Tyrone.  The  Irish  name  of 
Donaghedy  in  Tyrone,  is  Domhnach- Chaeide  (O'C. 
Cal)  ;  and  it  was  so  called  from  St.  Caeide  or 
Caidoc,  a  companion  of  St.  Columbanus.  The 

320  Artificial  Structures.  [PART  in. 

genitive  form  of  the  word  (see  p.  34)  gives  name 
to  Donnycarney,  a  village  a  few  miles  to  the 
north  of  Dublin,  and  to  Donacarney  in  Meath,  near 
the  mouth  of  the  Boyne,  both  names  signifying 
Cearnach's  church. 

Aireagal.  This  word  (pronounced  arrigle) 
means  primarily  a  habitation,  but  in  a  secondary 
sense,  it  was  often  applied  to  an  oratory,  hermi- 
tage, or  small  church.  The  word  is  obviously 
derived  from  the  Latin  oraculum  ;  for  besides  the 
similarity  of  form,  we  know  that  in  the  Latin 
Lives  of  the  Irish  saints  who  flourished  on  the 
continent,  the  oratories  they  founded  are  often 
designated  by  the  term  oraculum  (Petrie,  R. 
Towers,  p.  349).  It  has  been  used  in  Irish  from 
the  earliest  times,  for  it  occurs  in  our  oldest  MSS., 
as  for  instance  in  the  Leabhar  na  hUidhre,  where 
we  find  it  in  the  form  airicul. 

Errigal,  the  usual  English  form,  is  the  name  of 
a  parish  in  Londonderry,  and  of  a  townland  in 
Cavan.  The  well-known  mountain  called  Errigal 
in  Donegal,  in  all  probability  took  its  name  from 
an  oratory  somewhere  near  it.  The  church  of 
Errigal  Keerogue,  which  gives  name  to  a  parish 
in  Tyrone,  was  once  a  very  important  establish- 
ment ;  it  is  often  mentioned  by  the  annalists,  and 
called  by  them  Aireagal-Dachiarog,  the  church  of 
St.  Dachiarog.  Errigal  Trough  in  Honaghan,  is 
called  in  Irish  Aireagal-  Triucha,  the  church  of 
(the  barony  of)  Trough.  Duarrigle  is  the  name 
of  a  place  on  the  Blackwater,  near  Mill- street  in 
Cork,  containing  the  ruins  of  a  castle  built  by 
the  O'Keeffes;  its  Irish  name  is  Dubh-aireagal, 
black  habitation  or  oratory;  there  is  another 
place  of  the  same  name  near  Kanturk ;  and  we  have 
Coolnaharragill  in  the  parish  of  Glanbehy,  west 
of  Killarney,  the  corner  or  angle  of  the  oratory. 

CHAP,  ii.]         Eccfesiastical  Edifices.  321 

Urnaidhe.  This  word  which  is  variously  written 
urnaidhe,  ornaidhe,  or  ernaidhe  [urny,  erny],  sig- 
nifies primarily  a  prayer,  but  in  a  secondary  sense 
it  is  applied  to  a  prayer- house :  Latin  oratorium. 
It  takes  most  commonly  the  form  Urney,  which 
is  the  name  of  some  parishes  and  townlands  in 
Cavan,  Tyrone  and  King's  County ;  Urney  in 
Tyrone  is  often  mentioned  by  the  Four  Masters, 
and  called  Ernaidhe  or  Urnaidhe.  The  word  often 
incorporates  the  article  in  English  (see  p.  23),  and 
becomes  Nurney  (an  Urnaidhe,  the  oratory), 
which  is  the  name  of  several  parishes,  villages, 
and  townlands,  in  Carlow  and  Kildare.  It  occurs 
in  combination  in  Templenahurney  in  Tipperary, 
the  church  of  the  oratory. 

Serin.  Serin  [skreen],  which  comes  directly 
from  the  Latin  scrinium,  signifies  a  shrine,  i.  e. 
an  ornamented  casket  or  box,  containing  the  relics 
of  a  saint.  These  shrines  were  very  usual  in 
Ireland  ;  they  were  held  in  extraordinary  venera- 
tion, and  kept  with  the  greatest  care  ;  and  several 
churches  where  they  were  preserved  were  known 
on  this  account  by  the  Irish  name  Serin,  or  in 
English,  Skreen  or  Skrine.  The  most  remark- 
able of  these  was  Skreen  in  Meath,  which  is  called 
in  the  annals  Serin-  Choluimcille,  St.  Columkille's 
shrine,  and  it  was  so  called  because  a  shrine 
containing  some  of  that  saint's  relics  was  preserved 

Lann.  Lann,  in  old  Irish  land,  means  a  house 
or  church.  The  word  is  Irish,  but  in  its  ecclesi- 
astical application,  it  was  borrowed  from  the 
Welsh,  and  was  introduced  into  Ireland  at  a  very 
early  age  ;  when  it  means  simply  "  house,"  it  is 
no  doubt  purely  Irish,  and  not  a  loan  word.  It 
forms  part  of  the  terms  ith-lann  and  lann-iotha 
[ihlan,  lan-iha],  both  of  which  are  used  to  signiiy 
VOL.  i.  22 

322  Artificial  Structures.        [PART  in. 

a  granary  or  barn,  literally  house  of  corn  (ith, 
corn)  ;  the  latter  is  often  used  by  the  English- 
speaking  people  of  some  of  the  Minister  counties, 
who  call  a  barn  a  linnet/ ;  and  from  the  former  we 
have  Carrignahihilan,  the  name  of  a  townland 
near  Kenmare,  the  rock  of  the  granary.  Lann 
is  found  in  our  earliest  MSS.,  among  others  in 
those  of  Zeuss  ;  it  occurs  also  in  an  ancient  charter 
in  the  Book  of  Kells,  in  the  sense  of  house,  and  it  is 
so  translated  by  O'Donovan.  It  is  a  word  common 
to  several  languages,  and  its  primary  signification 
seems  to  be  an  enclosed  piece  of  ground ;  "  Old 
Arm.  lann ;  Ital.,  Fr.,  Provencal  landa,  lande, 
Gothic  (and  English)  land''  (Ebel). 

It  is  not  found  extensively  in  local  nomencla- 
ture, and  I  cannot  find  it  at  all  in  the  south  ;  but 
it  has  given  origin  to  the  names  of  a  few  remark- 
able plaees ;  and  it  is  usually  anglicised  lyn,  lynn> 
or  lin,  from  the  oblique  form  lainn  [lin  :  see  p. 
34,  supra],  as  in  the  word  linney  quoted  above. 
The  celebrated  St.  Colman-Elo,  patron  of  Lynally 
near  Tullamore,  was,  according  to  O'Clery's  Calen- 
dar, the  son  of  St.  Columba's  sister.  At  an 
assembly  of  saints  held  in  this  neighbourhood 
about  the  year  590,  Columba,  who  had  come  from 
the  convention  at  Druim-cett,  to  visit  his 
monastery  at  Durrow,  proposed  that  a  spot  of 
ground  should  be  given  to  Colman,  where  he 
might  establish  a  monastery;  and  Aed  Slaine, 
prince  of  Meath,  afterwards  king  of  Ireland, 
answered  that  there  was  a  large  forest  in  his 
principality,  called  Fidh-Elo  [Fee-Elo],  i.  e.  the 
wood  of  Ela,  where  he  might  settle  if  he  wished. 
Colman  accepted  it  and  said : — "  My  resurrection 
shall  be  there,  and  henceforth  I  shall  be  named 
[Colman-Elo]  from  that  place."  He  soon  after 
erected  a  monastery  there,  which  became  very 

CHAP,  ii."]         Ecclesiastical  Edifices.  323 

famous,  and  which  was  called  Lann-Elo  or  Land- 
Ealla  (O'Clery's  Cal.),  i.  e.  the  church  of  Ela, 
now  anglicised  Lynally  (see  Lanigan,  Keel.  Hist. 
II.  304). 

Another  place  equally  celebrated,  was  Lann- 
leire  or  Land-leri  [Book  of  Leinster],  i.  e.  the 
the  church  of  austerity,  which  until  recently  was 
supposed  to  be  the  old  church  of  Lynn,  on  the 
east  side  of  Lough  Ennel  in  Westmeath.  But 
Dr.  Reeves  has  clearly  identified  it  with  Dunleer 
in  Louth,  the  word  dun  being  substituted  for  lann, 
while  the  latter  part  of  the  name  has  been  pre- 
served with  little  change  (see  Dr.  Todd  in  "  Wars 
of  GGr.,"  introd.,  p.  xl.).  The  old  church  of  Lynn, 
which  gives  name  to  a  parish  in  Westmeath, 
though  it  is  not  the  Lann-leire  of  history,  derives 
its  name  from  this  word  lann. 

The  word  appears  in  other,  and  more  correct 
forms  in  Landmore,  i.  e.  great  church,  in  London- 
derry ;  Landahussy  or  Lanny hussy,  O'Hussy's 
house  or  church,  in  Tyrone;  Lanaglug  in  the 
same  county,  Lann-na-gclog,  the  church  of  the 
bells.  In  Landbrock  in  Fermanagh,  Lann  appears 
to  mean  simply  habitation,  the  name  being  applied 
to  a  badger  warren — Lann-broc,  house  of  badgers. 
Belan  in  Kildare,  is  called  by  the  annalists  Bioth- 
lann,  which  name  it  may  have  derived  from  a 
house  of  hospitality ;  bioth,  life  for  existence ; 
Biothlann,  refection  house ;  similar  in  formation 
to  ithlann  corn  house  (see  pp.  321-2). 

Glenavy  in  Antrim  is  another  example  of  the 
use  of  this  word.  The  g  is  a  modern  addition  ; 
and  Dr.  Reeves  has  remarked,  that  the  earliest 
authority  he  finds  for  its  insertion  is  a  Visitation 
Book  of  1661.  In  the  taxation  of  1306,  it  is 
called  Lenneioy,  and  in  other  early  English  docu- 
ments, Lenavy,  Lynavy,  &c.  (Reeves  Eccl.  Ant., 

324  Artificial  Structures-        [PART  in. 

p.  47),  which  very  well  represent  the  pronounci- 
ation  of  the  original  Irish  name,  Lann-abhaich 
[Lanavy],  as  given  in  the  Calendar,  signifying 
the  church  of  the  dwarf.  Colgan  states  that  when 
St.  Patrick  had  built  the  church  there,  he  left  it 
in  charge  of  his  disciple  Daniel,  who  from  hia 
low  stature,  was  called  dbhac  [avak  or  ouk],  i.  e., 
dwarf,  and  that  from  this  circumstance  the  church 
got  its  name.  It  is  worthy  of  remark  here,  that 
other  places  have  got  names  from  a  like  circum- 
stance ;  for  example,  Cappanouk  in  the  parish  of 
Abington,  Limerick,  represents  the  Irish  Ceapach- 
an-abhaich  the  garden  plot  of  the  dwarf. 

Baisleac.  This  is  a  loan  word,  little  changed, 
from  the  Latin  basilica,  and  bears  the  same  mean- 
ing, viz.,  a  church ;  it  is  of  long  standing  in 
Irish,  being  found  in  very  ancient  MSS.,  and  was 
no  doubt  brought  in,  like  the  preceding  terms, 
by  the  first  Christian  teachers.  I  am  aware  oi 
only  two  places  in  Ireland  deriving  their  names 
from  this  word.  One  is  Baslick,  an  old  church 
giving  name  to  a  parish  in  Roscommon,  which  ia 
often  mentioned  by  the  Four  Masters,  and  which, 
in  the  Tripartite  Life  of  St.  Patrick,  is  called 
Baisleac-mor,  great  church.  The  other  place  has 
for  its  name  the  diminutive  Baslickane,  and  is  a 
townland  in  the  parish  of  Kilcrohane,  Kerry. 

Disert.  The  word  disert  is  borrowed  from  the 
Latin  desertum,  and  retains  its  original  meaning 
in  Irish,  viz.,  a  desert,  wilderness,  or  sequestered 
place.  It  is  used  very  often  in  Irish  writings ; 
as  for  example,  in  the  Battle  of  Moyrath,  p.  1 0  : 
— "  Ocus  disert  mbec  aigi  ann  sin,"  and  he  (the 
saint)  had  a  little  desert  (hermitage)  there.  It  is 
generally  used  in  an  ecclesiastical  sense  to  denote 
a  hermitage,  such  secluded  spots  as  the  early 
Irish  saints  loved  to  select  for  their  little  dwell 

CFIAP.  ii. J         Ecdezinstwal  Edifices.  325 

ings ;  and  it  was  afterwards  applied  to  churches 
erected  in  those  places. 

Its  most  usual  modern  forms  are  Desert,  Disert, 
Dysart,  and  Dysert,  which  are  the  names  of  a 
considerable  number  of  parishes  and  townlands 
throughout  Ireland,  except  only  in  the  Connaught 
counties  (where,  however,  the  word  is  found  in 
other  forms).  Desertmartin  is  the  name  of  a  vil- 
lage in  Londonderry,  and  Desertserges  that  of  a 
parish  in  Cork,  the  former  signifying  Martin's, 
and  the  latter,  Sergus's  hermitage ;  Killadysert 
in  Clare  means  the  church  of  the  desert  or  her- 

The  word  disert  takes  various  corrupt  forms  in 
the  mouths  of  the  peasantry,  both  in  Irish  and 
English  ;  such  as  ister,  ester,  tirs,  tristle,  &c.  A 
good  example  of  one  of  these  corruptions  is  found 
in  Estersnow,  the  name  of  a  townland  and  parish 
in  Roscommon.  The  Four  Masters  call  it  Disert- 
Nuadhan  [Nooan],  St.  Nuadha's  hermitage ;  but 
the  people  now  call  it  in  Irish,  Tirs-Nuadhan ; 
while  in  an  Inquisition  of  Elizabeth,  it  is  called 
in  one  place  Issetnowne,  and  in  another  place, 
Issertnowne,  which  stand  as  intermediate  forms 
between  the  ancient  and  present  names.  Though 
written  Estersnow  on  the  Ordnance  maps  it  is 
really  called  by  the  people,  when  speaking 
English,  Eastersnow,  which  form  was  evidently 
evolved  under  the  corrupting  influence  noticed  at 
page  38,  supra,  (IX).  The  patron  saint  is  pro- 
bably the  Nuadha  [Nooa]  con.memorated  in 
O'Clery's  Calendar  at  the  3rd  of  October  ;  but  he 
is  now  forgotten  there,  though  his  holy  well, 
Tobernooan,  is  still  to  be  seen,  and  retains  his 
name  (see  O'Donovan's  Four  Masters,  Vol.  III., 
p.  546,  notejo). 

This  root  word  assumes  another  form  in  Tsert- 

326  Artificial  Structures.        ["PATCT  in. 

kelly,  an  ancient  church  giving  name  to  a  parish 
in  Galway,  mentioned  by  the  Four  Masters,  who 
call  it  Disert- Cheallaigh,  Ceallach's  or  Kelly's 
hermitage ;  and  in  Isertkieran,  a  parish  in  Tip- 
perary,  which  no  doubt  received  its  name  from  St. 
Ciaran  of  Ossory  (see  p.  149,  supra}.  It  is  still 
further  altered  in  Ishartmon,  a  parish  in  Wex- 
ford,  St.  Munna's  desert,  i.  e.  St.  Munna  of  Tagh- 
mon(p.  303), 

In  some  of  the  Leinster  counties  there  are 
several  places  whose  names  have  been  changed  by 
the  substitution  of  the  modern  word  castle  for  the 
ancient  disert ;  this  may  be  accounted  for  natur- 
ally enough  in  individual  cases,  by  the  fact  that  a 
castle  was  erected  on  or  near  the  site  of  the  old 
hermitage.  Castledermot  in  Kildare,  whose  an- 
cient importance  is  still  attested  by  its  round  tower 
and  crosses,  is  well  known  by  the  name  of  Disert 
Diarmada ;  where  Diarmad,  son  of  Aedh  Hoin, 
king  of  Ulidia,  founded  a  monastery  about  A.D. 
800.  The  present  form  of  the  name  was,  no 
doubt,  derived  from  the  castle  built  there  by 
Walter  de  Kiddlesford  in  the  time  of  Strongbow. 

The  Irish  name  of  Castledillon  in  Kildare,  is 
D-isert-Ialiidhan  [Disertillan],  i.  e.  lolladhan's 
hermitage.  Castlekeeran  near  Oldcastle  in  Meath, 
is  another  example.  The  ancient  name  of  this 
place,  as  appears  by  the  Four  Masters,  A.D.  868, 
was  Bealachduin  [Ballaghdoon],  the  road  of  the  dun 
or  fort ;  but  after  the  time  of  St.  Ciaran  the  Pious, 
who  founded  a  monastery  there  in  the  eighth  cen- 
tury, and  died  in  the  year  770,  it  was  generally 
called  in  the  annals,  Disert-Chiarain  [Disert- 
Kieran],  St.  Kieran's  hermitage.  The  castle  that 
originated  the  present  form  of  the  name  belonged, 
as  some  think,  to  the  Staffords,  but  according  to 
others,  to  the  Plunkets. 

CHAP.  ii. J         Ecclesiastical  Edifices.  327 

Cros.  Cros  signifies  a  cross,  and  is  borrowed 
from  the  the  Latin  crux  ;  it  occurs  in  our  earliest 
writings  ;  and  is  found  in  some  very  old  inscrip- 
tions on  crosses.  It  is  scarcely  necessary  to  state 
that,  from  the  time  of  the  introduction  of  Chris- 
tianity into  this  country,  crosses  were  erected  in 
connection  with  churches  and  other  religious 
foundations;  they  were  at  first  simple  and  un- 
adorned, but  became  gradually  more  elegant  in 
design,  and  more  elaborate  in  ornamentation;  and 
we  have  yet  remaining,  in  many  parts  of  the 
country,  crosses  of  the  most  beautiful  workman- 
ship, lasting  memorials  of  the  piety  and  artistic 
skill  of  our  forefathers. 

These  monuments  were  not  confined  to  religious 
buildings.  In  Adanman's  Life  of  St.  Columba,  it 
is  related  that  on  a  certain  occasion,  a  man  whom 
the  saint  was  coming  to  meet,  suddenly  fell  down 
and  expired.  "  Hence,  on  that  spot,  before  the 
entrance  to  the  kiln,  a  cross  was  erected,  and 
another  where  the  saint  stopped,  which  is  seen  to 
Jhis  day "  (Lib.  I.,  Cap.  45) ;  on  which  Dr. 
Reeves  remarks  : — "  It  was  usual  among  the  Irish 
to  mark  with  a  cross  the  spot  where  any  providen- 
tial visitation  took  place."  This  very  general 
custom  is  attested  not  only  by  history,  but  also 
by  the  great  number  of  places  that  have  taken 
their  names  from  crosses. 

The  word  Cross  itself  is  the  name  of  about 
thirty  townlands,  and  it  forms  the  first  syllable 
of  about  150  others ;  there  are  besides  numerous 
names  in  which  it  assumes  other  forms,  or  in  which 
it  occurs  in  the  termination.  Some  of  these 
places  probably  took  their  names  from  cross-roads, 
and  in  others  the  word  is  used  adjectively,  tc 
signify  a  transverse  position  ;  but  these  are  excep- 

328  Artificial  Structures.          [PART  in. 

tions,  and  tlie  greater  number  commemorate  the 
erection  of  crosses. 

A  cross  must  have  formerly  stood  near  the  old 
parish  church  of  Crosserlough  in  Cavan,  the 
Irish  name  being  Cros-air-loch,  the  cross  on  or  by 
the  lake.  Crossmolina  in  Mayo  is  called  by  the 
Four  Masters,  Cros-ui-Mhaeilfhina  [Crossywee- 
leena],  O'Mulleeny's  cross ;  the  family  of  O'Mael- 
f  hina,  whose  descendants  of  the  present  day  gener- 
ally call  themselves  Mullany,  had  their  seat  here, 
and  were  chiefs  of  the  surrounding  district.  There 
are  some  townlands  and  a  village  in  Down,  called 
Crossgar,  short  cross ;  Crossfarnoge,  the  name  of 
a  prominent  cape  near  Carnsore  point,  signifies 
the  cross  of  the  alder  tree ;  and  Gortna  gross,  the 
name  of  several  places  in  the  northern  and 
southern  counties,  is  the  field  of  the  crosses — Gort- 
na-gcros  ;  in  this  name,  and  in  Ardnagross — height 
of  the  crosses — the  c  is  eclipsed  by  g  (p.  22).  The 
parish  of  Aghacross  (the  ford  of  the  cross),  near 
Kildorrery  in  Cork,  took  its  name,  no  doubt,  from 
a  cross  in  connection  with  St.  Molaga's  establish- 
ment (see  p.  152),  erected  to  mark  a  ford  on  the 
Funcheon.  But  Aghacross  elsewhere  is  the  field 
(achadli)  of  the  cross.  There  are  several  places 
called  Crossan,  Crossane,  and  Crossoge,  all  which 
signify  little  cross. 

The  oblique  form  crois  (see  p.  34,  supra]  is  pro- 
nounced crush,  and  has  given  the  name  Crosh  to 
two  townlands  in  Tyrone ;  to  Crushybracken  in 
Antrim,  O'Bracken's  cross ;  and  to  several  other 
places.  "We  find  the  genitive  in  Ardnacrusha,  the 
name  of  a  village  near  Limerick  city,  and  of  a 
townland  in  Cork,  Ard-na-croise,  the  height  of  tt^ 
cross ;  the  diminutive,  Crusheen,  little  cross,  is  the 
name  of  a  small  town  in  Clare  ;  and  there  are  town- 
lands  in  Gal  way  called  Crosheen  and  Crusheeny, 

CHAP,  in.]  Monuments,  Graves,  and  Cemeteries.  329 

— the  last  meaning  little  crosses.  Crossaire 
[crussera],  which  is  a  derivative  from  cros,  is 
applied  in  the  south  of  Ireland  to  cross-roads,  and 
hence  we  have  Crossery  and  Crussera,  two  town- 
lands  in  Waterford,  the  latter  near  Dungarvan. 
For  the  form  crock,  see  page  220. 



BEFORE  the  introduction  of  Christianity,  different 
modes  of  sepulture  were  practised  in  Ireland.  In 
very  early  ages  it  was  usual  to  hum  the  hody,  and 
place  the  ashes  in  an  urn,  which  was  deposited  in 
the  grave.  It  seems  very  extraordinary  that  all 
memory  of  this  custom  should  he  lost  to  both  his- 
tory and  tradition  ;  for  I  am  not  aware  that  there 
is  any  mention  of  the  burning  of  bodies  in  any — 
even  the  oldest — of  our  native  writings.  But  that 
the  custom  was  very  general  we  have  the  best 
possible  proof ;  for  in  every  part  of  Ireland,  ciner- 
ary urns,  containing  ashes  and  burned  bones,  have 
been  found,  in  the  various  kinds  of  pagan  sepul- 

Occasionally  the  bodies  of  kings  and  chieftains 
were  buried  in  a  standing  posture,  arrayed  in 
full  battle  costume,  with  the  face  turned  towards 
the  territories  of  their  enemies.  Of  this  custom 
we  have  several  very  curious  historical  records. 
In  the  Leabhar  na  hUidhre  it  is  related  that 
King  Leaghaire  [Leary]  (see  pp.  139,  140,  supra) 

330  Artificial  Structures.         [v AUT  in. 

was  killed  "  by  the  sun  and  wind "  in  a  war 
against  the  Lagenians  ;  "  and  his  body  was  after- 
wards brought  from  the  south,  and  interred,  with 
his  arms  of  valour,  in  the  south-east  of  the  ex- 
ternal rampart  of  the  royal  Rath  Laeghaire  at 
Temur  (Tara),  with  the  face  turned  southwards 
upon  the  Lagenians  [as  it  were]  fighting  with 
them,  for  he  was  the  enemy  of  the  Lagenians  in 
his  lifetime"  (Petrie's  "Antiquities  of  Tara  Hill," 
p.  155).  The  same  circumstance  is  related  in  a 
still  older  authority,  with  some  additional  interest- 
ing details — the  "  Annotations  of  Tirechan,"  in 
the  Book  of  Armagh.  King  Leaghaire  says : — 
"  For  Neel,  my  father  (i.  e.  Niall  of  the  Nine 
Hostages),  did  not  permit  me  to  believe  [in  the 
teaching  of  St.  Patrick],  but  that  I  should  be  in- 
terred in  the  top  of  Temur,  like  men  standing  up 
in  war.  For  the  pagans  are  accustomed  to  be 
buried  armed,  with  their  weapons  ready,  face  to 
face  [in  which  manner  they  remain]  to  the  day  of 
Erdaihe,  among  the  magi,  i.  e.  the  day  of  judg- 
ment of  the  Lord"  (Ibid.  p.  146). 

The  pagan  Irish  believed  that,  while  the  body 
of  their  king  remained  in  this  position,  it  exercised 
a  malign  influence  on  their  enemies,  who  were 
thereby  always  defeated  in  battle.  Thus,  in  the 
Life  of  St.  Kellach,  it  is  stated,  that  his  father, 
Owen  Bel,  great  grandson  of  Dathi,  and  king  of 
Connaught  (see  pp.  104  and  139,  supra]  was  killed 
in  the  battle  of  Sligo,  fought  against  the  Ulster- 
men.  And  before  his  death  he  told  his  people 
"  to  bury  him  with  his  red  javelin  in  his  hand  in 
the  grave.  '  Place  my  face  towards  the  north,  on 
the  side  of  the  hill  by  which  the  northerns  pass 
when  flying  before  the  army  of  Connaught;  let 
my  grave  face  them,  and  place  myself  in  it  after 
this  manner  '  And  this  order  was  strictly  com- 

CHAP.  TTI.]  Monuments,  Graves,  and  Cemeteries.  331 

plied  with  ;  and  in  every  place  where  the  Clanna 
Neill  and  the  Connacians  met  in  conflict,  the 
Clanna  Neill  and  the  Northerns  were  routed,  being 
panic-stricken  by  the  countenances  of  their  foes ; 
so  that  the  Clanna  Neill  and  the  people  of  the 
north  of  Ireland,  therefore  resolved  to  come  with  a 
numerous  host  to  Rath-G'bhFiachrach  [Rathovee- 
ragh]  and  raise  [the  body  of]  Owen  from  the 
grave,  and  carry  his  remains  northwards  across 
to  Sligo.  This  was  done,  and  the  body  was 
buried  at  the  other  side  [of  the  river],  at  Aenacli 
Locha  Gile,  with  the  mouth  down,  that  it  might 
not  be  the  means  of  causing  them  to  fly  before 
the  Connacians "  (Translated  by  O'Donovan  in 
"Hy  Fiachrach,"  p.  472). 

It  is  very  curious  that,  in  some  parts  of  the 
country,  the  people  still  retain  a  dim  traditional 
memory  of  this  mode  of  sepulture,  and  of  the 
superstition  connected  with  it.  There  is  a  place 
in  the  parish  of  Errigal  in  Londonderry,  called 
Slaghtaverty,  but  it  ought  to  have  been  called 
Laghtaverty,  the  laght  or  sepulchral  monument  of 
a  man  named  Abhartach  \_Avartagh~],  who  was,  it 
seems,  a  dwarf.  This  dwarf  was  a  magician,  and  a 
dreadful  tyrant,  and  after  having  perpetrated  great 
cruelties  on  the  people  he  was  at  last  vanquished 
and  slain  by  a  neighbouring  chieftain  ;  some  say  by 
Finn  Mac  Cumhail.  He  was  buried  in  a  standing 
posture,  but  the  very  next  day  he  appeared  in  his 
old  haunts,  more  cruel  and  vigorous  than  ever. 
And  the  chief  slew  him  a  second  time  and  buried 
him  as  before,  but  again  he  escaped  from  the 
grave,  and  spread  terror  through  the  whole 
country.  The  chief  then  consulted  a  druid,  and 
according  to  his  directions,  he  slew  the  dwarf  a 
third  time,  and  buried  him  in  the  same  place,  with 
his  head  downwards;  which  subdued  his  magical 

332  Artificial  Structures.         [PART ITI- 

power,  so  that  he  never  again  appeared  on  the 
earth.  The  laght  raised  over  the  dwarf  is  still 
there,  and  you  may  hear  the  legend  with  much 
detail  from  the  natives  of  the  place,  one  of  whom 
told  it  to  me. 

The  modes  of  forming  receptacles  for  the  re- 
mains, and  the  monuments  erected  over  them, 
were  exceedingly  various.  It  was  usual  in  this 
country,  as  in  many  others,  to  pile  a  great  heap  of 
stones,  usually  called  a  earn,  over  the  grave  of 
any  person  of  note ;  and  where  stones  were  not 
abundant,  clay  was  used  for  the  same  purpose. 
This  custom  is  mentioned  in  many  of  our  ancient 
writings,  and  I  might  quote  several  passages  in 
illustration,  but  I  shall  content  myself  with  one 
from  Adamnan  (7th  cent.)  : — "The  old  man  [Art- 
brananus]  believed,  and  was  baptised,  and  when 
the  sacrament  was  administered  he  died  in  the 
same  spot  [on  the  shore  of  the  isle  of  Skye], 
according  to  the  prediction  of  the  saint  [i.  e.  of 
St.  Columba]  ;  and  his  companions  buried  bina 
there  ;  raising  a  heap  of  stones  over  his  grave  " 
(Vit.  Col.  I.,  33). 

The  same  custom  exists  to  some  extent  at  the 
present  day,  for  in  many  parts  of  Ireland,  they 
pile  up  a  laght  or  earn  over  the  spot  where  any 
person  has  come  to  an  untimely  death  ;  and  every 
passer-by  is  expected  to  add  a  stone  to  the  heap. 
The  tourist  who  ascends  Mangerton  mountain 
near  Killarney,  may  see  a  earn  of  this  kind  near 
the  Devil's  Punch  Bowl,  where  a  shepherd  was 
found  dead  some  years  ago. 

Our  pagan  ancestors  had  a  particular  fancy  for 
elevated  situations  as  their  final  resting-place;  and 
accordingly  we  find  that  great  numbers  of  moun- 
tains through  the  country  have  one  or  more  of 
these  earns  on  their  summit,  under  each  of  which 

CHAP.  ni.J  Monuments,  Graves,  and  Cemeteries.  333 

sleeps  some  person  important  in  bis  day.  They 
are  sometimes  very  large,  and  form  conspicuous 
objects  wben  viewed  from  the  neighbouring 

Many  mountains  through  every  part  of  the 
country  take  their  names  from  these  earns,  the 
name  of  the  monument  gradually  extending  itself 
to  the  hill.  Carnlea,  a  high  hill  north  of  Gush  en  - 
dall  in  Antrim,  is  an  example,  its  Irish  name  being 
Cam- Hath,  grey  earn  ;  the  great  pile  on  the  top  of 
Carn  Clanhugh  in  Longford  (the  earn  of  Clan- 
hugh  or  Hugh's  sons,  a  sept  of  the  O'Farrells)  is 
visible  for  many  miles  over  the  level  country  round 
the  mountain ;  and  Carroii  hill  near  Charleville, 
county  Cork,  takes  its  name  from  a  vast  pile  of 
stones  on  its  summit. 

The  word  earn  forms  the  whole  or  the  beginning 
of  the  names  of  about  300  townlands,  in  every  one 
of  which  a  remarkable  earn  must  have  existed, 
besides  many  others,  of  whose  names  it  forms  the 
middle  or  end  ;  and  there  are  innumerable  monu- 
ments of  this  kind  all  through  the  country  whicli 
have  not  given  names  to  townlands.  The  place 
called  Cam,  in  the  parish  of  Conry,  near  the  hiB 
of  Ushnagh  in  Westmeath,  is  the  ancient  Carn 
Fiachach  (Four  M.),  Fiacha's  monument,  which 
was  erected  to  commemorate  Fiacha,  son  of  Niall 
of  the  Nine  Hostages  (see  p.  139,  supra),  the 
ancestor  of  the  Mageoghegans.  It  is  very  pro- 
bable that  the  persons  who  are  commemorated  in 
such  names  as  the  following,  are  those  over  whom 
the  earns  were  originally  erected. 

Carnteel,  now  a  village  and  parish  in  Tyrone, 
is  called  by  the  Four  Masters  Carn-tSiadhail, 
Siadhal's  or  Shiel's  monument.  There  is  a  re- 
markable mountain,  with  a  earn  on  its  summit, 
called  Carn  Tierna.  near  Rathcormack  in  the 

334  Artificial  Structures.          [PAKT  in 

county  Cork.  According  to  O'Curry  (Lectures,  p. 
267),  Tighernach  [Tierna]  Tetbannach  king  of 
Munster  in  the  time  of  Conor  mac  Nessa,  in  the 
first  century,  was  buried  in  this,  whence  it  was 
called  Cam  Tighernaigh,  Tighernach's  earn ;  and 
the  sound  of  the  old  name  is  preserved  in  the 
modern  Cam  Tierna.  Carmavy  (Grange)  in  the 
parish  of  Killead,  Antrim,  Maev's  earn ;  Carn- 
kenny  near  Ardstraw  in  Tyrone,  the  earn  of 
Cainnech  or  Kenny ;  Carnew  in  Wicklow  pro- 
bably contains  the  same  personal  name  as  Rath- 
new — Carn-Naoi,  Naoi's  earn ;  Carnacally,  the 
name  of  several  places,  the  monument  of  the  cal- 
liach  or  hag. 

It  is  certain  that  the  following  places  have  lost 
their  original  names : — Carndonagh  in  Innish- 
owen,  which  got  the  latter  part  of  its  name  merely 
because  the  old  monument  was  situated  in  the 
parish  of  Donagh ;  there  are  some  places  in  Antrim 
and  Tyrone  called  Carnagat,  the  earn  of  the  cats, 
from  having  been  resorts  of  wild  cats ;  and  a 
similar  remark  applies  to  Carnalughoge  near 
Louth,  the  earn  of  the  mice.  Carney  in  Sligo  is 
not  formed  from  earn  ;  it  is  really  a  family  name, 
the  full  designation  being  Farran-O'Carney, 
0' Carney's  land. 

Other  modifications  of  this  word  are  seen  in 
Carron,  the  name  of  several  townlands  in  Water- 
ford,  Tipperary,  and  Limerick ;  and  in  Carrona- 
davderg,  near  Ardrnore  in  Waterford,  the  monu- 
ment of  the  red  ox,  a  singular  name,  no  doubt 
connected  with  some  legend ;  Carnane  and  Car- 
naun,  little  earn,  are  very  often  met  with ;  and  the 
form  Kernan  is  the  name  of  a  townland  near 
Armagh,  and  of  another  in  the  county  Down. 

The  mounds  or  tumuli  of  earth  or  stones,  raised 
over  a  grave,  were  sometimes  designated  by  the 

CHAP,  in.]  Monuments,  Graves,  and  Cemeteries  335 

word  tit  aim  [loom].  Like  the  cognate  Latin  word 
tumulus,  it  was  primarily  applied  to  a  hillock  or 
dyke,  and  in  a  secondary  sense  to  a  monumental 
mound  or  tomb.  These  mounds,  which  were  either 
of  earth  or  stones,  are  still  found  in  all  kinds  of 
situations,  and  sometimes  they  are  exceedingly 
large.  It  is  often  not  easy  to  distinguish  them 
from  the  duns  or  residences  ;  but  it  is  probable 
that  those  mounds  that  have  no  appearance  of 
circumvallations  are  generally  sepulchral.  They 
have  given  names  to  a  great  many  places  in  every 
part  of  Ireland,  in  numbers  of  which  the  old 
tumuli  still  remain.  There  are  about  a  dozen 
places,  chiefly  in  the  north,  called  Toome,  the  most 
remarkable  of  which  is  that  on  the  Bann,  between 
Lough  Neagh  and  Lough  Beg,  which  gives  name 
to  the  two  adjacent  baronies.  There  must  have 
been  formerly  at  this  place  both  a  sandbank  ford 
across  the  river,  and  a  sepulchral  mound  near  it, 
for  in  the  Tripartite  Life  it  is  called  Fearsat  Tuama, 
the  farset  or  ford  of  the  tumulus  ;  but  in  the 
annals  it  is  generally  called  Tuaim. 

Tomgraney  in  Clare  is  often  mentioned  by  the 
annalists,  who  call  it  Tuaim  Grein8,  the  tomb  of 
Grian,  a  woman's  name.  The  traditions  of  the 
place  still  preserve  the  memory  of  the  Lady  Grian, 
but  the  people  now  call  her  Gillagrauey — Gue- 
Greine,  the  brightness  of  the  sun.  They  say  that 
she  was  drowned  in  Lough  Graney ;  that  her  body 
was  found  in  the  river  Graney  at  a  place  called 
Derrygraney ;  and  that  she  was  buried  at  Tom- 
graney. All  these  places  retain  her  name,  and 
her  monument  is  still  in  existence  near  the  village. 
Grian,  which  is  the  Irish  word  for  the  sun,  and  is 
of  the  feminine  gender,  was  formerly  very  usual 
in  Ireland  as  a  woman's  name.  There  is  a  place 
called  Carugranny  near  the  town  of  Antrim,  where 

336  Artificial  Structures.          ^PART  lu- 

another  lady  named  Grian  must  have  been  buried 
Her  monument  also  remains  : — "  It  consists  of  ten 
large  slabs  raised  on  side  supporters,  like  a  series  of 
cromlechs,  forming  steps  commencing  with  the 
lowest  at  the  north  east  and  ascending  gradually 
for  the  length  of  forty  feet  towards  the  south 
west"  (Reeves' s  Eccl.  Ant.,  p.  66).  The  pile  is 
called  Granny's  Grave,  which  is  a  translation  of 
Carn-Grein#(see  also  Knockgrean  in  2nd  volume). 

The  parish  of  Tomfinlough  in  Clare  took  its 
name  from  an  old  church  by  a  lake  near  Sixmile- 
bridge,  which  is  several  times  mentioned  by  the 
Four  Masters  under  the  name  of  Tuaim-Fionnlocha, 
the  tumulus  of  the  bright  lake.  Toomona  in  the 
parish  of  Ogulla,  same  county,  where  are  still  to 
be  seen  the  ruins  of  a  remarkable  old  monastery, 
is  called  in  the  annals  Tuaim-mona,  the  tomb  of 
the  bog.  Toomy vara  in  Tipperary,  exactly  repre  • 
sents  the  sound  of  the  Irish  Tuaim-ui-Mhcad]tm_ 
O'Mara's  tomb ;  and  Tomdeely,  a  townland  giving 
name  to  a  parish  in  Limerick,  is  probably  the 
tumulus  of  or  by  the  (river)  Deel. 

On  the  summit  of  Tomies  mountain,  which 
rises  over  the  lower  lake  of  Killarney,  there  are 
two  sepulchral  heaps  of  stones,  not  far  from  one 
another ;  hence  the  Irish  name  Tuamaidhe  [Toomy], 
i.  e.  monumental  mounds ;  and  the  present  name, 
which  has  extended  to  three  townlands,  has 
been  formed  by  the  addition  of  the  English  after 
the  Irish  plural  (see  page  32).  The  Irish  name 
of  the  parish  of  Tumna  in  Roscommon  is  Tuaim- 
mna  (Four  Mast.),  the  tumulus  of  the  woman  (bean, 
a  woman,  gen.  mna).  Tooman  and  Toomog,  little 
tombs,  are  the  names  of  several  townlands  in  dif- 
ferent counties. 

Dumha  [dooa]  is  another  word  for  a  sepulchral 
mound  «r  tumulus  ;  it  is  very  often  used  in  Irish 

CHAP,  in.]  Monuments,  Graves,  and  Cemeteries.  337 

writings,  and  we  frequently  find  it  recorded  that 
the  bodies  of  the  slain  were  buried  in  a  dumha. . 
These  mounds  have  given  names  to  numerous 
places,  but  being  commonly  made  of  earth,  they 
have  themselves  in  many  cases  disappeared.  Moy- 
dow,  a  parish  in  Longford,  which  gives  name  ta 
a  barony,  is  called  by  the  Four  Masters,  Magh- 
dum/ta  [Moy-dooa],  the  plain  of  the  burial  mound ; 
and  there  is  a  townland  of  the  same  name  in  Ros- 

In  modern  names  it  is  not  easy  to  separate  this 
word  from  dub/i,  black,  and  dumhach,  a  sand-bank ; 
but  the  following  names  may  be  referred  to  it. 
Dooey,  which  is  the  name  of  several  townlands  in 
Ulster,  is  no  doubt  generally  one  of  its  modern 
forms,  though,  when  that  name  occurs  on  the  coast, 
it  is  more  likely  to  be  from  dumhach.  Knockadoo, 
the  hill  of  the  mound,  is  the  name  of  some  town- 
lands  in  Roscommon,  Sligo,  and  Londonderry  ; 
and  there  are  several  places  called  Corradoo,  Cor- 
radooa,  and  Corradooey,  the  round- hill  of  the 

A  leacht  [laght]  is  a  sepulchre  or  monument, 
cognate  with  Lat.  lectus  and  Greek  lechos ;  for  in 
many  languages  a  grave  is  called  a  bed  (see  leaba, 
further  on) ;  Goth,  liga ;  Eng.  lie,  lay ;  Manx, 
Ihiaght.  It  is  often  applied,  like  earn,  to  a  monu- 
mental heap  of  stones  :  in  Cormac's  Glossary  it  is 
explained  lighedh  mairbh,  the  grave  of  a  dead 
(person) . 

There  are  several  places  in  different  parts  of  the 
country  called  Laght,  which  is  its  most  correct 
anglicised  form  ;  Laghta,  monuments,  is  the  name 
of  some  townlands  in  Mayo  and  Leitrim,  and  we 
find  Laghtagalla,  white  sepulchres,  near  Thurles. 
Laghtane,  little  laght,  is  a  place  in  the  parish  of 
KilleenagarrifP,  Limerick. 

VOL.  i.  23 

338  Artificial  Structures.  £PAKT  ITT. 

In  the  north  of  Ireland,  the  guttural  is  univer- 
sally suppressed,  and  the  word  is  pronounced  kit 
or  let ;  as  we  find  in  Latt,  the  name  of  a  town- 
land  in  Armagh,  and  of  another  in  Cavan; 
Derlett  in  Armagh,  the  oak-wood  of  the  grave 
(Doire-leachta) ;  Letfern  in  Tyrone,  the  laglit  of 
the  J 'earns  or  alder- trees  ;  and  Corlat,  the  name  of 
several  places  in  the  Ulster  counties,  the  round-hill 
of  the  sepulchres. 

The  word  uladh  [ulla]  originally  meant  a  tomb 
or  earn,  as  the  following  passages  will  show : — 
"  oc  denam  uluidh  cumdachta  imatflaithj"  making 
a  protecting  tomh  over  thy  chief  (O'Donovan, 
App.  to  O'Reilly's  Diet,  voce  uladh).  In  the  Leabh- 
ar  na  hUidhre,  it  is  related  that  Caeilte 
[Keeltha],  Finn  mac  Cumhal's  foster  son,  slew 
Fothadh  Airgtheach,  monarch  of  Ireland,  in 
the  battle  of  Ollarba  (Larne  Water),  A.  D.  285. 
Caeilte  speaks : — "  The  uluidh  of  Fothadh  Airg- 
theach will  be  found  a  short  distance  to  the  east 
of  it.  There  is  a  chest  of  stone  about  him  in  the 
earth ;  there  are  his  two  rings  of  silver,  and  his 
two  bunne  doat  [bracelets  ?]  and  his  torque  of  silver 
on  his  chest ;  and  there  is  a  pillar-stone  at  his 
earn ;  and  an  ogum  is  [inscribed]  on  the  end  of 
the  pillar- stone  which  is  in  the  earth ;  and  what 
is  on  it  is,  *  Eochaidh  Airgtheach  here '  "  (Petrie, 
E.  Towers,  p.  108). 

The  word  is  now,  however,  and  has  been  for  a 
long  time  used  to  denote  a  penitential  station,  or 
a  stone  altar  erected  as  a  place  of  devotion :  a 
very  natural  extension  of  meaning,  as  the  tombs 
of  saints  were  so  very  generally  used  as  places 
of  devotion  by  the  faithful.  It  was  used  in  this 
sense  at  an  early  period,  for  in  the  "  Battle  of 
Moyrath,"  it  is  said  that  "  Domhnall  never  went 
away  from  a  cross  without  bowing,  nor  from  an 

CHAP,  ITT.]  Monuments,  Graves,  and  Cemeteries.  339 

ulaidh  without  turning  round,  nor  from  an  altar 
without  praying"  (p.  298).  On  which  O 'Dono- 
van remarks : — "  Uhiidh,  a  word  which  often 
occurs  in  ancient  MSS.,  is  still  understood  in  the 
west  of  Ireland  to  denote  a  penitential  station  at 
which  pilgrims  pray,  and  perform  rounds  on  their 
knees."  These  little  altar  tombs  have  given  names 
to  places  all  over  Ireland,  in  many  of  which, 
especially  in  the  west  and  south,  they  may  still  be 

Among  several  places  in  Cork,  we  have  Glenn  a- 
hulla  near  Kildorrery,  and  Kilnahulla  in  the 
parish  of  Kilmeen,  the  glen  and  the  church  of 
the  altar  tomb  ;  the  latter  name  being  the  same  as 
Killulla  in  Clare.  In  Ulusker  near  Castletown 
Bearhaven,  the  word  seems  to  be  used  in  its 
primary  sense,  as  the  name  is  understood  to  mean 
Oscar's  earn  ( Uladh-  Oscuir)  ;  and  in  this  sense 
We  must  no  doubt  understand  it  in  Tullyullagh 
near  Enniskillen,  the  hill  of  the  tombs.  Knockan- 
ully  in  Antrim  signifies  the  hill  of  the  tomb  ; 
and  Tomnahulla  in  Galway,  would  be  written  in 
Irish,  Tuaim-na-hulaidh,  the  mound  of  the  altar 
tomb.  We  have  the  diminutive  Ullauns  near 
Killarney,  and  Ullanes  near  Macroom  in  Cork, 
both  signifying  little  stone  altars. 

"  A  cromlech,  when  perfect,  consists  of  three 
or  more  stones  unhewn,  and  generally  so  placed 
as  to  form  a  small  enclosure.  Over  ihese  a  large 
[flat]  stone  is  laid,  the  whole  forming  a  kind  of 
rude  chamber.  The  position  of  the  table  or  cover- 
ing stone,  is  generally  sloping ;  but  its  degree  of 
inclination  does  not  appear  to  have  been  regulated 
by  any  design  "  (Wakeman's  Handbook  of  Irish 
Antiquities,  p.  7).  They  are  very  numerous  in 
all  parts  of  Ireland,  and  various  theories  have 
been  advanced  to  account  for  their  origin;  of 

340  Artificial  Structures.  PART  in. 

which  the  most  common  is  that  they  were  "Druids' 
altars,"  and  used  for  offering  sacrifices.  It  is 
now,  however,  well  known  that  they  are  tombs, 
which  is  proved  by  the  fact  that  under  many  of 
them  have  been  found  cinerary  urns,  calcined 
bones,  and  sometimes  entire  skeletons.  The 
popular  name  of  "  Giants'  graves,"  which  is  ap- 
plied to  them  in  many  parts  of  the  country,  pre- 
serves, with  sufficient  correctness,  the  memory  of 
their  original  purpose.  They  have  other  forms 
besides  that  described  ;  sometimes  they  are  very 
large,  consisting  of  a  chamber  thirty  or  forty  feet 
long,  covered  by  a  series  of  flags  laid  horizontally, 
like  Carngranny  (p.  335)  ;  and  not  unfrequently 
the  chamber  is  in  the  form  of  a  cross. 

The  word  cromlech — crom-kac,  sloping  stone 
(crom,  bending,  sloping) — is  believed  not  to  be 
originally  Irish ;  but  to  have  been  in  late  years 
introduced  from  Wales,  where  it  is  used  merely 
as  an  antiquarian  term.  That  it  is  not  an  old 
Irish  word  is  proved  by  the  fact,  that  it  is  not 
used  in  the  formation  of  any  of  our  local  names, 
It  has  none  of  the  marks  of  a  native  term,  for  it 
is  not  found  in  our  old  writings,  and — like  the 
expression  "  Druids'  altars  " — it  is  quite  unknown 
to  the  Irish- speaking  peasantry. 

These  sepulchres  are  sometimes  called  leaba  or 
leabmdh,  old  Irish  lebaid  [labba,  labbyj,  Manx 
Ihiabbee ;  the  word  literally  signifies  a  bed,  but  it 
is  applied  in  a  secondary  sense  to  a  grave,  both  in 
the  present  spoken  language  and  in  old  writings. 
For  example,  in  the  ancient  authority  cited  by 
Petrie  (R.  Towers,  p.  350),  it  is  stated  that  the 
great  poet  Rumann,  who  died  in  the  year  747  at 
Rahan  in  King's  County,  "  was  buried  in  the 
same  ieabaidh  with  Ua  Suanaigh,  for  his  great 
honour  with  God  and  man."  There  is  a  fine  sepul- 

CHAP,  in.]    Monuments,  Graves,  and  Cemeteries.  341 

chral  monument  of  this  kind,  hitherto  unnoticed, 
in  a  mountain  glen  over  Mount  Russell  near 
Charleville,  on  the  borders  of  the  counties  of 
Limerick  and  Cork,  which  the  peasantry  call 
Labba-Iscur,  Oscur's  grave.  O'Brien  (Diet,  voce 
Leaba)  says,  "  Leaba  is  the  name  of  several  places 
in  Ireland,  which  are  by  the  common  people  called 
Leabthacha-na-bhfeinne  [Labbaha-na-veana],  the 
monuments  of  the  Fenii  or  old  Irish  champions ;" 
and  it  may  be  remarked  that  Oscur  was  one  of  the 
most  renowned  of  these,  being  the  son  of  Oisin, 
the  son  of  Finn  mac  Cumhal  (see  p.  91,  supra). 

Labby,  which  is  one  of  the  modern  forms  of 
this  term,  is  the  name  of  a  townland  in  London- 
derry. Sometimes  the  word  is  followed  by  a 
personal  name,  which  is  probably  that  of  the  in- 
dividual buried  in  the  monument ;  as  in  Labby- 
eslin  near  Mohill  in  Leitrim,  the  tomb  of  Eslin ; 
Labasheeda  in  Clare,  Sioda  or  Sheedy's  grave. 
Sioda  is  the  common  Irish  word  for  silk ;  and 
accordingly  many  families,  whose  real  ancestral 
name  is  Sheedy,  now  call  themselves  Silk.  In 
case  of  Labasheeda,  the  inhabitants  believe  that 
it  was  so  called  from  the  beautiful  smooth  strand 
in  the  little  bay — Leaba-  sioda,  silken  bed,  like  the 
"  Velvet  strand  "  near  Malahide.  Perhaps  they 
are  right. 

Cromlechs  are  called  in  many  parts  of  the 
country  Leaba-  Dhiarmada-agus- Grainne,  the  bed 
of  Diarmaid  and  Grainne  ;  and  this  name  is  con- 
nected with  the  well-known  legend,  that  Diarmait 
O'Duibhne  [Dermat  O'Deena],  eloped  with 
Grainne,  the  daughter  of  king  Cormac  mac  Art, 
and  Finn  mac  CumhaiPs  betrothed  spouse.  The 
pair  eluded  Finn's  pursuit  for  a  year  and  a  day, 
sleeping  in  a  different  place  each  night,  under  a 
leaba  erected  by  Diarmaid  after  his  day's  journey ; 

342  Artificial  Structures.         [J-ART  lit. 

and  according  to  the  legend  there  were  just  366 
of  them  in  Ireland.  But  this  legend  is  a  late  in- 
vention, and  evidently  took  its  rise  from  the  word 
leabaidh,  which  was  understood  in  its  literal  sense 
of  a  bed.  The  fable  has,  however,  given  origin 
to  the  name  of  Labbadermody,  Diarmait's  bed, 
a  townland  in  the  parish  of  Clondrohid  in  Cork  ; 
and  to  the  term  Labbacallee — Leaba-caillighe,  hag's 
bed — sometimes  applied  to  these  monuments. 

In  some  parts  of  Ulster  a  cromlech  is  called 
ctoch-togbhala  [clogh-togla],  i.  e.  raised  or  lifted 
stone,  in  reference  to  the  covering  flag;  from 
which  Clochtogle  near  Enniskillen,  and  Cloghogle 
(t  aspirated  and  omitted — p.  21),  two  townlands 
in  Tyrone,  have  their  name.  There  is  a  hill  near 
Downpatrick  called  Slieve-na- griddle,  the  moun- 
tain of  the  griddle ;  the  griddle  is  a  cromlech  on 
the  top  of  the  hill ;  but  the  name  is  half  English 
and  very  modern.  It  may  be  remarked  that 
cromlechs  are  sometimes  called  "  griddles "  in 
other  places ;  thus  Grabriel  Beranger,  who  made 
a  tour  through  Ireland  in  the  last  century,  men- 
tions one  situated  in  a  bog  near  Easky  in  Sligo, 
which  was  usually  called  "  Finn  Mac  Cool's 

"  In  many  parts  of  Ireland,  and  particularly 
in  districts  where  the  stone  circles  occur,  may  be 
seen  huge  blocks  of  stone,  which  evidently  owe 
their  upright  position,  not  to  accident,  but  to  the 
design  and  labour  of  an  ancient  people.  They 
are  called  by  the  native  Irish  gallauns  or  leaganns, 
and  in  character  they  are  precisely  similar  to  the 
hoar-stones  of  England,  the  hare-stanes  of  Scotland, 
and  maen-gwyr  of  Wales.  Many  theories  have 
been  promulgated  relative  to  their  origin.  They 
are  supposed  to  have  been  idol  stones — to  have 
been  stones  of  memorial — to  have  been  erected  as 

CHAP,  in.]  Monuments,  Graves,  and  Cemeteries.  343 

landmarks,  boundaries,  &c. — and,  lastly,  to  be 
monumental  stones  "  (Wakeman's  "  Handbook  of 
Irish  Antiquities,"  p.  17).  We  know  that  the 
erection  of  pillar-stones  as  sepulchral  monuments 
is  often  recorded  in  ancient  Irish  authorities,  one 
example  of  which  will  be  found  in  the  passage 
quoted  from  Leabhar  na  hllidhre  at  page  338 ; 
but  it  is  probable  that  some  were  erected  for 
other  purposes. 

There  are  several  words  in  Irish  to  signify  a 
pillar- stone,  one  of  which  is  coirthe  or  cairthe 
[corha,  carha].  It  is  used  in  every  part  of  Ire- 
land, and  has  given  names  under  various  forms  to 
many  different  places,  in  several  of  which  the  old 
pillar-stones  are  yet  standing.  The  beautiful 
valley  and  lake  of  Glencar,  on  the  borders  of 
Leitrim  and  Sligo,  is  called  in  Irish,  Gleann-a- 
chairthe  [Glenacarha],  the  glen  of  the  pillar-stone ; 
but  its  ancient  name,  as  used  by  the  Four  Masters, 
was  Cairthe-Muilcheann  [carha-Mulkan].  Carha 
and  Carra,  the  names  of  several  townlands  in 
Ulster  and  Connaught,  exhibit  the  word  in  its 
simple  anglicised  forms,  There  is  a  place  in  the 
parish  of  Clonfert,  Cork,  called  Knockahorrea, 
which  represents  the  Irish  Cnoc-d-chairthe,  the 
hill  of  the  pillar- stone ;  and  in  Louth  we  find 
Drumnacarra,  which  has  nearly  the  same  meaning. 

These  stones  are  also,  as  Mr.  Wakeman  remarks, 
called  gallautis  and  kaganns.  The  Irish  form  of 
the  first  is  gattdn,  which  is  sometimes  corrupted 
in  the  modern  language  to  dalldn ;  it  has  given 
name  to  Gallan  near  Ardstraw  in  Tyrone ;  and 
to  Gallane  and  Gallanes  in  Cork.  There  are 
several  low  hills  in  Ulster,  which  from  a  pillar- 
stone  standing  on  the  top,  were  called  Drumgallan, 
and  some  of  them  have  given  names  to  townlands. 
Aghagallon,  the  field  of  the  gallan,  is  the  name 
of  a  townland  in  Tyrone,  and  of  a  parish  in  An- 

344  Artificial  Structures.  [PART  in. 

trim ;  Knockagallane  (hill)  is  the  name  of  two 
townlands  in  Cork,  and  there  is  a  parish  near 
Mitchelstown  in  the  same  county,  called  Kilgul- 
lane,  the  church  of  the  pillar-stone. 

The  word  gall,  of  which  gallan  is  a  diminutive, 
was  applied  to  standing- stones,  according  to  Cor- 
mac  mac  Cullenan  (see  p.  95,  supra*),  because  they 
were  first  erected  in  Ireland  by  the  Gauls.  This 
word  is  also  used  in  the  formation  of  names ;  as 
in  Cangullia,  a  place  near  Castleisland  in  Kerry, 
the  Irish  name  of  which  is  Ceann-gailk,  the  head 
or  hill  of  the  standing- stone.  The  adjective 
gallach,  meaning  a  place  abounding  in  standing- 
stones,  or  large  stones  or  rocks,  has  given  name 
to  several  places  now  called  Gallagh,  scattered 
through  all  the  provinces  except  Munster ;  and 
Gallow,  the  name  of  a  parish  in  Meath,  is  another 
form  of  the  same  word. 

The  other  term  Itagdn  [leegaun]  is  a  diminu- 
tive of  Hag,  which  will  be  noticed  farther  on;  and 
in  its  application  to  a  standing-stone,  it  is  still 
more  common  than  gallan.  Legan,  Legane,  Le- 
gaun,  and  Leegane,  all  different  anglicised  forms, 
are  the  names  of  several  places  in  different  parts 
of  the  country ;  and  the  English  plural,  Liggins 
(pillar-stones)  is  found  in  Tyrone.  Ballylegan, 
the  town  of  the  standing  stone,  is  the  name  of  a 
place  near  Caher  in  Tipperary,  and  of  another 
near  Glanworth  in  Cork  ,  there  is  a  place  called 
Tooraleagan  (Toor,  a  bleach-green)  near  Bally- 
landers  in  Limerick ;  and  Knockalegan,  the  hill 
of  the  pillar- stone,  is  the  name  of  naif  a  dozen 
townlands  in  Ulster  and  Munster. 

Pert,  plural  ferta,  signifies  a  grave  or  trench. 
The  old  name  of  Slane  on  the  Boyne,  was  Ferta- 
fer-Feic,  and  the  account  given  by  Colgan  (Trias 
Thaura.,  p.  20)  of  the  origin  of  this  name,  brings 

CHAP,  in.]  Monuments,  Graves,  and  Cemeteries.   845 

out  very  clearly  the  meaning  of  ferta  : — "There 
is  a  place  on  the  north  margin  of  the  river  Boyne, 
now  called  Slaine;  [but  anciently]  it  was  called 
Ferta-fer-Feic,  i.  e.  the  trenches  or  sepulchres  of 
the  men  of  Fiac,  because  the  servants  of  a  certain 
chieftain  named  Fiac,  dug  deep  trenches  there,  to 
inter  the  bodies  of  the  slain." 

In  the  Book  of  Armagh  there  is  an  interesting 
account  by  Tirechan,  of  the  burial  in  the  ferta,  of 
Laeghaire's  three  daughters  (see  p.  179,  supra), 
who  had  been  converted  by  St.  Patrick : — "  And 
the  days  of  mourning  for  the  king's  daughters 
were  accomplished,  and  they  buried  them  near  the 
ivell  Clebach ;  and  they  made  a  circular  ditch 
like  to  a  ferta ;  because  so  the  Scotic  people  and 
gentiles  were  used  to  do,  but  with  us  it  is  called 
Religuies  (Irish  Releg],  i.  e.  the  remains  of  the 
virgins"  (Todd's  Life  of  St.  Patrick,  p.  455). 
Ferta  was  originally  a  pagan  term,  as  the  above 
passage  very  clearly  shows,  but  like  cluain  and 
other  words,  it  was  often  adopted  by  the  early 
Irish  saints  (see  Reeves' s  "Ancient  Churches  of 
Armagh,"  p.  47). 

The  names  Farta,  Ferta,  and  Fartha  (i.  e. 
graves),  each  of  which  is  applied  to  a  townland, 
exhibit  the  plural  in  its  simple  form ;  with  the 
addition  of  ach  to  the  singular,  we  have  Fertagh 
and  Fartagh,  i.  e.  a  place  of  graves,  which  are 
names  of  frequent  occurrence.  Fertagh  near 
Johnstown  in  Kilkenny  is  called  by  the  Four 
Masters  Fcrta-na-gcaerach,  the  graves  of  the  sheep ; 
and  O'Donovan  states  that  according  to  tradition, 
it  was  so  called  because  the  carcases  of  a  great 
number  of  sheep  which  died  of  a  distemper,  were 
buried  there.  (Four  Masters,  Vol.  I.,  p.  498). 
In  the  parish  of  Magheross,  Monaghan,  there  is  a 
townland  called  Nafarty,  i.  e.  the  graves,  the  Irish 

346  Artificial  Structures.          £PART  in. 

article  na,  forming  part  of  the  name.  The  parish 
of  Moyarta  in  Clare  which  gives  name  to  a  barony, 
is  called  in  Irish  Hayh-flierta  (fh  silent,  see  p.  20), 
the  plain  of  the  grave. 

Reilig,  old  Irish  relcc,  means  a  cemetery  or 
graveyard ;  it  is  the  Latin  reliquice,  and  was  bor- 
rowed very  early,  for  it  occurs  in  the  Zeuss  MSS. 
The  most  celebrated  place  in  Ireland  with  this 
name  was  Reilig-na-riogh,  or  "  the  burial-place  of 
the  kings,"  at  the  royal  palace  of  Cruachan  in 
Connaught,  one  of  the  ancient  regal  cemeteries. 
There  are  only  a  few  places  in  Ireland  taking 
their  names  from  this  term.  Relick  is  the  name 
of  two  townlands  in  "Westmeath,  and  there  is  a 
graveyard  in  the  parish  of  Carragh  near  Naas, 
county  Kildare,  called  The  Relick,  i.  e.  the  ceme- 
tery. The  parish  of  Relickmurry  [and  Athassel] 
in  Tipperary,  took  its  name  from  an  old  burial- 
ground,  whose  church  must  have  been  dedicated 
to  the  Blessed  Virgin,  for  the  name  signifies 
Mary's  cemetery.  One  mile  S.  E.  of  Portstewart 
in  Londonderry,  there  are  two  townlands  called 
Roselick  More  and  Roselick  Beg.  Roselick  is  a 
modern  contraction  for  Itosrelick  as  we  find  it 
written  in  the  Taxation  of  1306 ;  and  the  same 
signifies  the  ros  or  point  of  the  cemetery.  There 
is  a  spot  in  Roselick  Beg  where  large  quantities  of 
human  remains  have  been  found,  and  the  people 
have  a  tradition  that  a  church  once  existed  there , 
showing  that  the  name  preserves  a  fragment  of 
true  history  (Reeves :  Eccl.  Ant.,  p.  75). 

CHAP,  iv.]          Toicns  ami  Villages.  347 



"THE  most  interesting  word  connected  with  to- 
pical nomenclature  is  bally.  As  an  existing 
element  it  is  the  most  prevalent  of  all  local  terms 
in  Ireland,  there  being  6,400  townlands,  or  above 
a  tenth  of  the  sum  total,  into  [the  beginning  of] 
whose  names  this  word  enters  as  an  element.  And 
this  is  a  much  smaller  proportion  than  existed  at 
the  beginning  of  the  seventeenth  century,  when 
there  was  a  tendency,  at  least  in  some  of  the 
northern  counties,  to  prefix  batty  to  almost  every 
name  whose  meaning  would  admit  of  it "  ("  The 
Townland  Distribution  of  Ireland,"  by  the  Rev. 
Wm.  Reeves,  D.D. :  Proc.  R.I.A.,  Vol.  VII.,  p. 
473,  where  this  word  bails  is  fully  discussed). 

The  Irish  word  bails  is  now  understood  to  mean 
a  town  or  townland,  but  in  its  original  accepta- 
tion it  denoted  simply  locus — place  or  situation ; 
it  is  so  explained  in  various  ancient  glosses,  such 
as  those  in  the  Book  of  Armagh,  Cormac's  Glos- 
sary, the  Book  of  Lecan,  &c. ;  and  it  is  used  in 
this  sense  in  the  Leabhar  na  hllidhre,  and  in 
many  other  old  authorities. 

In  writings  of  more  modern  date,  it  is  often 
used  to  signify  a  residence  or  military  station — a 
natural  extension  of  meaning  from  the  original. 
For  instance,  the  Four  Masters,  at  1560,  state 
that  Owen  O'Rourke,  having  been  kept  in  prison 
by  his  brother,  slew  his  keeper,  "  and  ascending 
to  the  top  of  the  bailf,  cried  out  that  the  castle 
was  in  his  power;"  in  which  baile  evidently 
means  the  fortress  in  which  he  was  confined.  In 

348  Artificial  Structures.          [PART  in. 

the  Yellow  Book  of  Lecan,  an  ancient  gloss  ex- 
plains a  rath  (i.  e.  a  fort  or  residence)  by  baile ; 
and  in  the  story  of  "  The  fate  of  the  children  of 
Lir "  we  read  : — "  She  [Aeife]  went  on  to  [the 
fairy  residence  called]  Sidh  Buidhbh  Deirg  [Shee- 
Boovderg]  ;  and  the  nobles  of  the  baile  bade  her 
welcome"  (Atlantis,  VII ,  p.  124). 

This  application  of  the  term  is  obviously  pre- 
served in  the  name  of  the  tongue  of  land  on  which 
the  Howth  lighthouse  is  built,  which  is  called  the 
Green  Baiky.  Our  Annals  relate  that  Criffan, 
monarch  of  Ireland  in  the  first  century,  had  his 
residence,  Dun-Criffan,  at  Ben  Edar  or  Howth, 
where  he  died  in  A.D.  9,  "  after  returning  from 
the  famous  expedition  upon  which  he  had  gone. 
It  was  from  this  expedition  he  brought  with  him 
the  wonderful  jewels,  among  which  were  a  golden 
chariot,  and  a  golden  chess-board  [inlaid]  with  a 
hundred  transparent  gems,  and  a  beautiful  cloak 
embroidered  with  gold.  He  brought  a  conquering 
sword,  with  many  serpents  of  refined  massy  gold 
inlaid  in  it ;  a  shield  with  bosses  of  bright  silver  ; 
a  spear  from  the  wound  of  which  no  one  recovered ; 
a  sling  from  which  no  erring  shot  was  discharged ; 
and  two  greyhounds,  with  a  silver  chain  between 
them,  which  chain  was  worth  three  hundred 
cumhals;  with  many  other  precious  articles"  (Four 
Masters,  A.D.  9). 

Petrie  and  O'Donovan  both  believe  that  the 
lighthouse  occupies  the  site  of  this  ancient 
fortress ;  and  portions  of  the  fosses  by  which  it 
was  defended  are  still  clearly  traceable  across  the 
neck  of  the  little  peninsula.  The  Rev.  J.  F. 
Shearman  is  of  opinion  that  it  was  situated  higher 
up,  where  the  old  Bailey  lighthouse  stood ;  but 
this  does  not  invalidate  the  derivation  of  the 
name.  And  so  the  memory  of  Criffan' s  old  bally, 

CHAP,  iv.]          Towns  and  Villages.  349 

which  has  long  been  lost  in  popular  tradition, 
still  lives  in  the  name  of  the  Bailey  lighthouse. 
In  the  colloquial  language  of  the  present  day  the 
word  baile  is  used  to  signify  home,  which  is  ob- 
viously  a  relic  of  its  more  ancient  application  to  a 

In  modern  times  this  word  is  usually  translated 
"town;"  but  in  this  sense  it  is  applied  to  the 
smallest  village,  even  to  a  collection  of  only  a 
couple  of  houses.  It  is  also  used  to  designate 
mere  townlands,  without  any  reference  at  all  to 
habitations.  This  application  is  as  old  as  the 
twelfth  century;  for  we  are  informed  by  Dr 
Reeves  that  the  word  was  often  so  used  in  the 
charters  of  that  period,  such  as  those  of  Kells, 
Newry,  Ferns,  &c.,  in  which  numbers  of  denomi- 
nations are  mentioned,  whose  names  contain  it  in 
the  forms  bali,  baley,  balli,  bale',  &c.  It  is  pro- 
bable that  in  many  old  names  which  have  de- 
scended to  our  own  time  the  word  bally  is  used  in 
the  sense  of  "residence,"  but  it  is  difficult  or 
impossible  to  distinguish  them  ;  and  I  have,  fol 
the  sake  of  uniformity,  throughout  this  book 
translated  the  word  by  "town"  or  "townland." 

The  most  common  anglicised  form  of  baile  is 
bally,  which  is  found  in  a  vast  number  of  names ; 
such  as  Ballyorgan  near  Kilfinane  in  Limerick, 
which  the  people  call  in  Irish  Baile- Ar  again,  the 
town  of  Aragan,  an  ancient  Irish  personal  name, 
the  same  as  the  modern  Horgan  or  Organ.  In 
Ballybofey  (Donegal)  the  bally  is  a  modern  addi- 
tion ;  and  the  place,  if  it  had  retained  an  angli- 
cised form  of  the  old  name,  Srath-bo-Fiaich  (Four 
Masters),  should  have  been  called  Srathbofey. 
Some  old  chief  or  occupier  named  Fiach  must 
have  in  past  times  kept  his  cows  on  the  beautiful 
holm  along  the  river  Finn  near  the  town ;  for  the 

<i50  Artificial  Structure*.  [PART  in. 

name  signifies  the  srath  or  river  holm  of  Fiaeh's 
cows.  Ballyheige  iu  Kerry  has  its  name  from 
the  family  of  O'Teige,  its  full  Irish  name  being 
Bdik-ui-Thadg ;  and  Ballylanders  is  in  like  man- 
ner called  from  the  English  family  of  Landers. 
Indeed,  a  considerable  proportion  of  these  Ballys 
take  their  names  from  families,  of  which  many 
are  so  plain  as  to  tell  their  own  story. 

When  bally  is  joined  to  the  article  followed 
by  a  noun  in  the  genitive  singular,  if  the  noun 
be  masculine,  the  Irish  Baik-an-  is  generally 
contracted  to  Sail-in-;  as  we  find  in  Ballinrobe 
in  Mayo,  which  the  Four  Masters  write  Bailc- 
an-Rodhba  [Roba],  the  town  of  the  (river)  Robe  ; 
and  in  Ballincurry,  Ballincurra,  and  Ballincurrig, 
all  of  which  are  in  Irish  Baile-an-churraigh,  the 
town  of  the  moor  or  marsh.  But  it  is  occasion- 
ally made  Ballyn-,  as  in  Ballyneety,  the  name 
of  a  dozen  places,  chiefly  in  Waterford,  Tipperary, 
and  Limerick,  which  represents  the  sound  of  the 
Irish  Baik-an-Fhaeite,  the  town  of  White,  a  family 
name  of  English  origin.  If  the  following  noun 
be  feminine,  or  in  the  genitive  plural,  the  Irish 
Baik-na-  is  made  either  Ballina-  or  BaUyna-  ;  as  in 
the  common  townland  names,  Ballynahinch  and 
Ballinahinch,  the  town  of  the  island  ;  Ballyna- 
glogh,  the  town  of  the  stones  (clock,  a  stone). 

In  the  counties  on  the  eastern  coast,  bally  is 
very  often  shortened  to  bal,  of  which  there  are 
numerous  examples,  such  as  Baldoyle  near  Dublin, 
which  is  written  in  the  Registry  of  All  Hallows, 
Balydowyl,  and  in  other  old  Anglo-Irish  au- 
thorities, Ballydubgaill,  Balydugil,  Ballydowill, 
&c. — Irish,  Baile-Dubhghoill,  the  town  of  Dubli- 
gltall  or  Doyle,  a  personal  name  meaning  black 
Gall  or  foreigner.  Balbriggan,  the  town  of  Brecan, 
a  very  usual  personal  name ;  Balrath  is  generally 

3HAp.iv."]  Towns  an\l  Villages.  65 i 

the  town  of  the  fort ;  but  Balrath  in  the  parish  of 
Castletown-Kindalen  in  Westmeath,  is  Bile-ratha 
(Four  M.j,  the  bile  or  ancient  tree  of  the  rath. 
Baltrasna,  cross-town,  i.  e.  placed  in  a  transverse 
direction,  the  same  name  as  Ballytrasna,  Bally- 
tarsna,  and  Ballytarsney. 

The  plural  of  baile  is  bailte,  which  appears  in 
names  as  it  is  pronounced,  baity.  There  is  a  town- 
land  in  Wicklow,  near  Hollywood,  called  Baity 
boys,  i.  e.  Boyce's  townlands ;  and  a  further  step 
in  the  process  of  anglicisation  appears  in  its  alia* 
name  of  Boystown,  which  form  has  given  name  to 
the  parish.  Baltylum  in  Armagh,  bare  townlands, 
i.  e.  bare  of  trees ;  Baltydaniel  in  Cork,  Donall's 
or  Domhnall's  townlands.  The  diminutives  Bal- 
leen  and  Balteen  (little  town)  are  the  names  of 
several  places  in  Kilkenny  and  the  Munster  coun- 
ties ;  Balteenbrack  in  Cork,  speckled  little  town. 

Baile  is  not  much  liable  to  changes  of  form 
further  than  I  have  noticed ;  yet  in  a  few  names 
we  find  it  much  disguised.  For  instance,  Cool- 
ballow  in  the  parish  of  Kerloge,  Wexford,  repre- 
sents Cul-bhaik,  back  town,  the  same  as  we  find 
in  Coolbally  and  Coolballyogan  (Hogan's)  in 
Queen's  County,  and  Coolballyshane  (John's)  in 
Limerick.  The  proper  original  of  Bau0tY&  in 
Inishowen,  Donegal,  is  £obhaile,cov?town.;  Lough - 
bollard,  near  Clane,  Kildare,  the  lake  of  the  high- 
town  ;  Derrywillow  in  Leitrim  represents  Doire- 
bhaile,  which,  with  the  root  words  reversed,  is  the 
same  name  as  Ballinderry,  the  town  of  the  derry 
or  oak-wood. 

Srdid  [sraud]  signifies  a  street,  and  appears  to 
be  borrowed  from  the  Latin  strata.  The  Four 
Masters  use  it  once  where  they  mention  Sraid- 
an-fhiona  [Sraud-an-eena],  the  street  of  the  wine, 
now  Winetavern-street  in  Dublin.  There  are 

352  Artificial  Structures.  [PART  in 

several  townlands  in  Antrim,  Donegal  and  London- 
derry, called  Straid,  which  is  one  of  its  English 
forms,  and  which  enters  into  several  other  names 
in  the  same  counties;  we  find  Strade  in  Mayo, 
and  Stradeen,  little  street,  in  Monaghan.  It  is  also 
sometimes  made  strad,  as  in  Stradreagh  in  London- 
derry, grey-street ;  Stradavohcr  near  Thurles,  the 
street  of  the  road :  Stradbrook  near  Monkstown 
Dublin,  is  very  probably  a  translation  of  Sruthan- 
na-sraid#  [sruhanasrauda],  the  brook  of  the  street. 

A  village  consisting  of  one  street,  undefended 
by  either  walls  or  castle — a  small  unfortified  ham- 
let— was  often  called  Sradbhaile,  i.  e.  street-town ; 
which  in  its  English  form,  Stradbally,  is  the  name 
of  several  villages,  parishes,  and  townlands,  in  the 
southern  half  of  Ireland.  Stradbally  in  Queen's 
County,  is  mentioned  by  the  Four  Masters,  who 
call  it  "  Sradbhaile  of  Leix." 

Buirghes  [burris]  signifies  a  burgage  or  borough. 
This  word  was  introduced  by  the  Anglo-Normans, 
who  applied  it  to  the  small  borough  towns  which 
they  established,  several  of  which  have  retained 
the  original  designations.  After  the  twelfth  cen- 
tury, it  is  often  found  in  Irish  writings,  but  always 
as  a  part  of  local  names. 

It  is  usually  spelled  in  the  present  anglicised 
names  Borris,  Burris,  and  Burges,  which  are  met 
with  forming  the  whole  or  part  of  names  in  several 
of  the  Munster,  Connaught,  and  Leinster  counties ; 
it  does  not  occur  in  Ulster.  Burriscarra,  Borris- 
in-Ossory,  Borrisoleagh,  and  Burrishoole,  were  so 
called  to  distinguish  them  from  each  other,  and 
from  other  Borrises ;  being  situated  in  the  ancient 
territories  of  Carra,  Ossory,  Ileagh  or  Ui-Luigh- 
dheach,  and  Umhall,  or  "  The  Owles."  Borrisna- 
f arney,  the  name  of  a  parish  in  Tipperary,  signifies 
the  borough  of  the  alder-plain  (see  Farney) ; 
Borrisokane,  O'Keane's  borough  town. 

CHAP,  v.]      Fords,  Weirs,  and  Bridges.  353 

Graig,  a  village.  It  is  supposed  by  many  to 
have  been  introduced  by  the  Anglo-Normans,  but 
its  origin  is  very  doubtful.  It  is  used  extensively 
in  the  formation  of  names,  there  being  upwards  of 
sixty  places  called  Graigue,  and  a  great  many 
others  of  whose  names  it  forms  a  part.  It  does 
not  occur  at  all  in  Ulster. 

The  name  of  Graiguenamanagh  in  Kilkenny, 
bears  testimony  to  its  former  ecclesiastical  emi- 
nence, for  it  signifies  the  village  of  the  monks  ; 
Graiguealug  and  Graiguenaspiddogue,  both  in 
Carlo w,  the  village  of  the  hollow,  and  of  the  robin- 
redbreasts;  Graiguefrahane  in  Tipperary,  the 
graig  of  thefreaghans  or  whortleberries.  Gragane 
and  Graigeen  in  Limerick,  Gragan  in  Clare,  and 
Grageen  in  "Wexford,  all  signify  little  village, 
being  different  forms  of  the  diminutive ;  Ard- 
graigue  in  Galway,  and  Ardgregane  in  Tipperary, 
the  height  of  the  village. 



THE  early  inhabitants  of  a  country  often,  for  ob- 
vious reasons,  selected  the  banks  of  rivers  for  their 
settlements ;  and  the  position  most  generally  chosen 
was  opposite  a  part  of  the  stream  sufficiently  shallow 
to  be  fordable  by  foot  passengers.  Many  of  our 
important  towns,  as  their  names  clearly  indicate, 
derive  their  origin  from  these  primitive  and  soli- 
tary settlements ;  but  moit  of  the  original  fords 
have  been  long  since  spanned  by  bridges. 

But  whether  there  was  question  of  settlements 
VOL.  i.  24 

354  Artificial  Structure?.          [PART  m. 

or  not,  the  fordable  points  of  rivers  must  have 
been  known  to  the  very  earliest  colonists,  and 
distinguished  by  names ;  for  upon  this  knowledge 
depended,  in  a  great  measure,  the  facility  and 
safety  of  intercommunication,  before  the  erection 
of  bridges.  Fords  were,  generally  speaking,  natural 
features,  but  in  almost  all  cases  they  were  im- 
proved by  artificial  means,  as  we  find  mentioned 
by  Boate  : — "  Concerning  the  fords :  it  is  to  be 
observed  that  not  everywhere,  where  the  high- 
ways meet  with  great  brooks  or  small  rivers, 
bridges  are  found  for  to  pass  them,  but  in  very 
many  places  one  is  constrained  to  ride  through 
the  water  itself,  the  which  could  not  be  done  if  the 
rivers  kept  themselves  everywhere  enclosed  be- 
tween their  banks ;  wherefore  they  are  not  only 
suffered  in  such  places  to  spread  themselves  abroad, 
but  men  help  thereto  as  much  as  they  can,  to 
make  the  water  so  much  the  shallower,  and  con- 
sequently the  easier  to  be  passed  "  (Nat.  Hist.,  C. 
VII.,  Sect.  VII.).  Very  often  also,  when  circum- 
stances made  it  necessary,  a  river  was  rendered 
passable  at  some  particular  point,  even  where  there 
was  no  good  natural  ford,  by  laying  down  stones, 
trees,  or  wicker  work.  For  these  reasons  I  have 
included  "  Fords  "  in  this  third  part  among  arti- 
ficial structures. 

There  are  several  Irish  words  for  the  different 
kinds  of  fords,  of  which  the  most  common  is  ath, 
cognate  with  Latin  vadum.  In  the  various  forms 
ath,  ah,  augh,  agh,  a,  &c.,  it  forms  a  part  of  hun- 
dreds of  names  all  over  Ireland  (see  p.  43,  supra}. 
The  Shannon  must  have  been  anciently  fordable 
at  Athlone ;  and  there  was  a  time  when  the  site  of 
the  present  busy  town  was  a  wild  waste,  relieved 
by  a  few  solitary  huts,  and  when  the  traveller — 
directed  perhaps  by  a  professional  guide — struggled 

CTTAP,  v.^         Fords,  Weirs,  and  Bridges.  355 

across  the  dangerous  passage  where  the  bridge 
now  spans  the  stream.  It  appears  from  the  "Battle 
of  Moylena  "  (p.  60),  that  this  place  was  first  called 
Athmore,  great  ford,  which  was  afterwards  changed 
to  Ath-Luain,  the  ford  of  Luan,  a  man's  name, 
formerly  very  common.  I  know  nothing  further 
of  this  Luan,  except  that  we  learn  his  father's 
name  from  a  passage  in  the  tale  called  "  The  fate 
of  the  children  of  Tuireann,"  in  which  the  place 
is  called  Ath-Luain-mic-Luighdheach,  the  ford  of 
Luan  the  son  of  Lewy. 

Athleague  on  the  Suck  in  the  county  Ros- 
common,  is  called  by  the  Four  Masters  At h- Hag, 
the  ford  of  the  stones,  or  more  fully,  Ath-liag~ 
Maenagain,  from  St.  Mainagan,  who  was  formerly 
venerated  there,  though  no  longer  remembered. 
The  people  say  that  there  is  one  particular  stone 
which  the  river  never  covers  in  its  frequent  inun- 
dations, and  that  if  it  were  covered,  the  town 
would  be  drowned.  There  was  another  At  h- Hag, 
on  the  Shannon,  which  is  also  very  often  mentioned 
in  the  Annals ;  it  crossed  the  river  at  the  present 
village  of  Lanesborough,  and  it  is  now  called  in 
Irish  Baile-atha-liag ,  or  in  English  Ballyleague, 
(the  town  of  the  ford  of  the  stones),  which  is  the 
name  of  that  part  of  Lanesborough  lying  on  the 
west  bank  of  the  Shannon.  Another  name  nearly 
the  same  as  this,  is  that  of  Athlacca  in  Limerick, 
which  was  so  called  from  a  ford  on  the  Morning 
Star  river,  called  in  Irish  Ath-leacach,  stony  or 
flaggy  ford.  And  it  will  appear  as  I  go  on,  that  a 
great  many  other  places  derive  their  names  from 
these  stony  fords.  There  was  another  ford  higher 
up  on  the  same  river,  which  the  Four  Masters  call 
Bel-atha-na-nDeise  [Bellananeasy],  the  ford-mouth, 
of  the  Desii,  from  the  old  territory  of  Deis-beag, 
which  lay  round  the  hill  of  Knockany  ;  and  in  the 

356  Artificial  Structures.  £PART  in. 

shortened  form  of  Ath-nDeise  it  gives  name  to  the 
surrounding  parish,  now  called  Athneasy. 

Ath  is  represented  by  aa  in  Drumaa,  the  name 
of  two  townlands  in  Fermanagh,  in  Irish  Druim- 
atha,  the  ridge  of  the  ford.  A  ford  on  the  river 
Inny,  formerly  surrounded  with  trees,  gave  name 
to  the  little  village  of  Finnea  in  Westmeath, 
which  the  Four  Masters  call  Fidh-an-atha  [Fee- 
an-aha],  the  wood  of  the  ford.  Affane,  a  well- 
known  place  on  the  Blackwater,  took  its  name 
from  a  ford  across  the  river  about  two  miles  below 
Cappoquin ;  it  is  mentioned  by  the  Four  Masters, 
vrhen  recording  the  battle  fought  there  in  the 
year  1565,  between  the  rival  houses  of  Desmond 
and  Ormond,  and  they  call  it  Ath-mheadhon  \_Ah~ 
vane],  middle  ford.  At  the  year  524,  we  read 
in  the  Four  Masters,  "the  battle  of  Ath-Sidhe 
[Ahshee]  (was  gained)  by  Muircheartach  (king  of 
Ireland)  against  the  Leinstermen,  where  Sidhe, 
the  son  of  Dian,  was  slain,  from  whom  Ath- Sidhe 
[on  the  Boyne :  the  ford  of  Sidhe]  is  called ;  " 
and  the  place  has  preserved  this  name,  now 
changed  to  Assey,  which,  from  the  original  ford, 
has  been  extended  to  a  parish.  The  same  autho- 
rity states  (A.  D.  526),  that  Sin  [Sheen],  the 
daughter  of  Sidhe,  afterwards  killed  Muirchear- 
tach, by  burning  the  house  of  Cletty  over  his 
head,  in  revenge  of  her  father's  death. 

Ath  is  very  often  combined  with  baile  forming 
the  compound  Baile-atha  [Bally-aha],  the  town  of 
the  ford ;  of  which  Ballyboy  in  the  King's  County, 
a  village  giving  name  to  a  parish  and  barony,  is 
an  example,  being  called  in  various  authorities, 
Baile-atha-buidhe  [Ballyaboy],  the  town  of  theyel- 
ow  ford.  There  are  many  townlands  in  different 
counties,  of  the  same  name,  but  it  probably  means 
yellow  town  \_Baile-buidhe~\  in  some  of  these  cases. 

CHAP,  v.]     Fords,  Weirs,  and  Bridges.  357 

Ballylahan  in  the  parish  of  Templemore,  Mayo,  is 
called  in  the  annals  Baile-atha-leathain,  the  town 
of  the  broad  ford.  The  parish  of  Bailee  in  Down 
is  written  in  the  taxation  of  1306,  Baliath,  which 
shows  clearly  that  the  original  name  is  Baile-atha 
(Beeves :  Eccl.  Ant.,  p.  41). 

The  diminutive  ath  an  [ahaun]  is  of  frequent 
occurrence ;  in  the  forms  of  Ahane  and  Ahaun 
(little  ford),  it  gives  name  to  several  townlandsin 
the  southern  counties ;  and  there  is  a  parish  in 
Derry  called  Aghanloo,  or  in  Irish  Athan  Lug  ha, 
Lewy's  little  ford. 

The  word  bel  or  I6al  [bale]  primarily  signifies 
a  mouth,  but  in  a  secondary  sense  it  was  used, 
like  the  Latin  os,  to  signify  an  entrance  to  any 
place.  In  this  sense,  it  appears  in  Bellaugh,  the 
name  of  a  village  lying  west  of  Athlone.  Between 
this  village  and  the  town  there  was  formerly  a 
slough  or  miry  place  called  in  Irish  a  lathach 
[lahagh],  which  the  Four  Masters  mention  by  the 
name  of  Lathach- Caichtuthbil ;  and  the  spot  where 
the  village  stands  was  called  Bel-lathaigh,  the 
entrance  to  the  lathach,  which  is  now  correctly 
enough  anglicised  Bellaugh.  Bellaghy,  another 
and  more  correct  form,  is  the  name  of  a  village 
in  Londonderry,  of  another  in  Sligo,  and  of  a 
townland  in  Antrim. 

This  word  be'lis  very  often  united  with  ath,  form- 
ing the  compound  bel-atha  [bellaha  orbella],  which 
signifies  ford-entrance — an  entrance  by  a  ford — 
literally  mouth  of  a  ford;  it  is  applied  to  a  ford,  and 
has  in  fact  much  the  same  signification  as  ath  itself. 
It  is  so  often  used  in  this  manner  that  the  word 
bel  alone  sometimes  denotes  a  ford.  Belclare, 
now  the  name  of  a  parish  in  Galway,  was  more 
anciently  applied  to  a  castle  erected  to  defend  a 
ford  on  the  road  leading  to  Tuain,  which  was 

353  Artificial  Structures.          [PART  nt. 

called  Bel-an-chlair,  the  ford  or  entrance  of  the 
plank.  There  is  also  a  townland  in  Mayo,  called 
Belclare,  and  another  in  Sligo,  which  the  Four 
Masters  call  Bel-an-chlair.  Phale  near  Enniskeen 
in  Cork,  is  called  in  the  Annals  of  Innisfallen, 
Inis-an-bheil  [Innishanwzfe],  the  island  or  river 
holm  of  the  mouth,  the  last  syllable  of  which  is 
preserved  in  the  present  name. 

The  proper  anglicised  form  of  bel-atha,  is  bella, 
which  is  the  beginning  of  a  great  many  names. 
Bellanagare  in  Roscommon,  formerly  the  residence 
of  Charles  O'Conor  the  historian,  is  called  in  Irish 
Bel-atha-na-gcarr,  the  ford-mouth  of  the  cars  (see 
for  cars  2nd  Vol.,  Chap,  XT.  ) ;  Lisbellaw  in  Fer- 
managh, Lios-bel-atha,  the  Us  of  the  ford-mouth. 
Sometimes  the  article  intervenes,  making  bel-an- 
atlia  in  the  original,  the  correct  modern  represen- 
tative of  which  is  bellana,  as  we  find  in  Bellana- 
cargy  in  Cavan,  the  ford-mouth  of  the  rock. 

Bdl-atha  is  often  changed  in  modern  names  to 
balli,  or  bally,  as  if  the  original  root  were  baik  a 
town ;  and  bel-an-atha  is  made  ballina.  Both  of 
these  modern  forms  are  very  general,  but  they 
are  so  incorrect  as  to  deserve  the  name  of  corrup- 
tions. Ballina  is  the  name  of  about  twenty-five 
townlands  and  villages  in  different  parts  of  Ireland 
several  of  which  are  written  Bel-an-atha  in  the 
annals.  Ballina  in  Tipperary,  opposite  Killaloe, 
was  so  called  from  the  ford — now  spanned  by  a 
bridge — called  Ath-na-borumha,  the  ford  of  the 
cow  tribute ;  and  here  no  doubt  the  great  monarch 
Brian  was  accustomed  to  cross  the  Shannon  when 
returning  to  his  palace  of  Kincora,  with  the  herds 
of  cattle  exacted  from  the  Leinstennen  (see  Boro, 
below).  Ballina  in  Mayo,  on  the  Moy,  is  some- 
what different,  and  represents  a  longer  name,  for 
it  is  called  in  an  ancient  poem  in  the  Book  of 

CHAP,  v.]     Fords,  Weirs,  and  Bridges.  359 

Lecan,  Bel-atha-an~fheadha  [Bellahana],  the  ford- 
mouth  of  the  wood.  We  find  this  compound  also 
in  Ballinafad  in  Sligo,  which  the  Four  Masters 
call  Bel-an-atha-fada  [Bellanafada],  the  mouth  of 
the  long  ford  ;  and  there  is  a  village  in  Leitrim 
and  several  townlands  in  other  counties,  called 
Ballinamore,  the  mouth  of  the  great  ford. 

Bel-atha  is  reduced  to  bally  and  balli  in  the 
following  names.  The  ford  on  the  river  Erne 
round  which  the  town  of  Ballyshannon  rose  is 
called  by  the  annalists,  Ath-Seanaigh  and  Bel-atha- 
Seanaigh  [Bellashanny] ;  from  the  latter,  the 
modern  name  is  derived,  and  it  means  the  mouth 
of  Seanach's  or  Shannagh's  ford,  a  man's  name  in 
common  use.  The  on  in  Ballyshannow  is  a  modern 
corruption  ;  the  people  call  the  town  Ballyshanny, 
which  is  nearer  the  original ;  and  in  an  Inquisition 
of  James  L,  it  is  given  with  perfect  correctness, 
Bealashanny.  Ballyshannon  in  Kildare,  west  of 
Kilcullen  Bridge,  is  also  called  in  Irish  Ath 
Seanaigh  (Four  Masters),  Seanach's  ford;  and  the 
present  name  was  formed,  as  in  case  of  the 
northern  town,  by  prefixing  Bel.  It  appears 
from  a  record  in  the  Annals  of  Ulster,  that  this 
place  in  Kildare  was  also  called  Uchba. 

There  is  a  ford  on  the  river  Boro  in  Wexford, 
called  Bel-atha-Borumha,  which  preserves  the 
memory  of  the  well  known  Borumha  or  cow 
tribute,  long  exacted  from  the  kings  of  Leinster 
by  the  monarchs  of  Ireland  (see  p.  158).  From 
the  latter  part  of  the  name,  Borumha  [Boru],  this 
river — so  lovingly  commemorated  in  Mr.  Ken 
nedy's  interesting  book,  "  The  banks  of  the  Boro' 
— derives  its  name.  The  ford  is  called  Bealaborowt 
in  an  inquisition  of  Charles  I.,  and  in  the  modem 
form  Ballyboro,  it  gives  name  to  a  townland. 
Ballylicky,  on  the  road  from  Glengarriff  to 

360  Artificial  Structures.          LPART  in. 

Bantry  in  Cork,  where  the  river  Ouvane  enters 
Bantry  Bay,  is  called  in  Irish  Bel-atha-lice,  the 
ford-mouth  of  the  flag-stone,  and  whoever  has 
seen  it  will  acknowledge  the  appropriateness  of 
the  name.  All  the  places  called  Bellanalack, 
derive  their  names  from  similar  fords. 

When  a  river  spread  widely  over  a  craggy  or 
rugged  spot,  the  rough  shallow  ford  thus  formed 
was  often  called  scairbh  [scarriv],  or  as  O'Reilly, 
spells  it,  scirbh.  A  ford  of  this  kind  on  a  small 
river  in  Clare,  gave  name  to  the  little  town  of 
Scarriff ;  and  there  are  several  townlands  of  the 
same  name  in  Cork,  Kerry,  and  Galway.  Near 
Newtownhamilton  in  Armagh,  there  are  two  ad- 
joining townlands  called  SkerrifE  ;  and  the  same 
term  is  found  shortened  in  Scarnageeragh  in 
Monaghan,  Scairbh-na-gcaerach,  the  shallow  ford 
of  the  sheep. 

The  syllable  ach  is  sometimes  added  to  this  word 
in  the  colloquial  language,  making  scairbheach 
[scarvagh],  which  has  the  same  meaning  as 
the  original ;  this  derivative  is  represented  by 
Scarva,  the  name  of  a  village  in  Down  ;  Scarvy  in 
Monaghan  ;  and  Scarragh  in  Tipperary  and  Cork. 

In  the  end  of  names,  when  the  word  occurs  in 
the  genitive,  it  is  usually,  though  not  always, 
anglicised  scarry,  as  in  Ballynascarry  in  West- 
meath  and  Kilkenny,  the  town  of  the  ford ;  and 
Lackanascarry  in  Limerick,  the  flag-stones  of  the 
shallow  ford.  A  ford  of  this  kind,  where  the  old 
road  crosses  the  Cookstown  river,  gave  name  to 
Enniskerry  in  Wicklow.  This  spot  is  truly  de- 
scribed by  the  term  scairbh,  being  rugged  and 
stony  even  now  ;  the  natives  call  it  Annaskerry, 
and  its  Irish  name  is  obviously  Ath-na-scairbhe 
[Anascarry],  the  ford  of  the  scarriffor  rough  river- 
crossing.  Other  forms  are  seen  in  Bellanascarrow 

CHAP,  v.]     Fords,  Weirs,  and  Bridges.  361 

and  Bellanascarva  in  Sligo,  the  ford-mouth  of  the 
scarriff  (see  p.  358). 

The  word  fearsad  [farsad]  is  applied  to  a  sand- 
bank formed  near  the  mouth  of  a  river,  by  the 
opposing  currents  of  tide  and  stream,  which  at 
low  water  often  formed  a  firm,  and  comparatively 
safe  passage  across.  The  term  is  pretty  common, 
especially  in  the  west,  where  these  farsets  are  of 
considerable  importance,  as  in  many  places  they 
serve  the  inhabitants  instead  of  bridges.  Colgan 
translates  the  word,  "vadum  vel  trftjectus." 

A  sandbank  of  this  kind  across  the  mouth  of  the 
Lagan  gave  name  to  Belfast,  which  is  called  in  Irish 
authorities  Bel-feirsdS,  the  ford  of  the  farset;  and 
the  same  name,  in  the  uncontracted  form  Belfar- 
sad,  occurs  in  Mayo.  There  is  now  a  bridge  over 
the  old  sandbank  that  gave  name  to  the  village  of 
Farsid  near  Aghada  on  Cork  harbour ;  the  origin 
of  this  name  is  quite  forgotten,  and  the  people 
call  it  Farside,  and  understand  it  to  be  an  English 
word  ;  but  the  name  of  the  adjacent  townland  of 
Ballynafarsid  proves,  if  proof  were  necessary, 
that  it  took  its  name  from  a,  farset.  Callanafersy 
in  Kerry,  between  the  mouths  of  the  rivers  Maine 
and  Laune,  is  somewhat  softened  down  from  the 
Irish  name  Cafa-na-feirtse,  the  ferry  of  the  farset. 
On  the  river  Swilly  where  it  narrows  near  Letter- 
kenny,  there  was  a  farset  which  in  old  times  was 
evidently  an  important  pass,  for  the  Four  Masters 
record  several  battles  fought  near  it :  it  is  now 
called  Farsetmore,  and  it  can  still  be  crossed  at 
low  water. 

A  kish  or  kesh,  in  Irish  ceis  [kesh],  is  a  kind  of 
causeway  made  of  wickerwork,  and  sometimes  of 
boughs  of  trees  and  brambles,  across  a  small  river, 
a  marsh,  or  a  deep  bog.  The  word  means  pri- 
marily wicker  or  basket  work ;  and  to  this  day, 

362  Artificial  Structures.          [PART  TIL 

in  some  parts  of  Ireland,  they  measure  and  sell 
turf  by  the  kish,  which  originally  meant  a  large 
wicker-basket.  These  wickerwork  bridges  or 
kishes,  were  formerly  very  common  in  every  part 
of  Ireland,  and  are  so  still  in  some  districts.  The 
Four  Masters  record  at  1483,  that  O'Donnell  on 
a  certain  occasion  constructed  a  ceasaigh-droichet 
[cassy-drohet]  or  wicker  bridge  across  the  Black- 
water  in  Tyrone,  for  his  army ;  and  when  they 
had  crossed,  he  let  the  bridge  float  down  the 
stream.  The  memory  of  this  primitive  kind  of 
bridge  is  preserved  in  many  places  by  the  names. 

This  word  appears  in  its  simple  form  in  Kesh, 
a  small  town  in  Fermanagh  ;  and  in  Kish,  a  town- 
land  near  Arklow  ;  and  I  suppose  the  Kish  light, 
outside  Dublin  Bay,  must  have  been  originally 
floated  on  a  wicker  framework.  A  causeway  of 
brambles  and  clay  made  across  a  marsh,  not  far  from 
a  high  limestone  rock,  gave  name  to  the  village 
of  Keshcarrigan  in  Leitrim,  the  kesh  of  the  car- 
rigan  or  little  rock.  There  is  a  place  not  far  from 
Mallow,  called  Annakisha  (Ath-na-cise)  the  ford 
of  the  wickerwork  causeway — a  name  that  points 
clearly  to  the  manner  in  which  the  ford  on  the 
river  was  formerly  rendered  passable. 

Sometimes  ceiseach,  or  in  English  kishagh,  is  the 
form  used,  and  this  in  fact  is  rather  more  common 
than  kish :  we  find  it  as  Kisha  near  Wexf  ord ;  and 
the  same  form  is  preserved  in  Kishaboy  (boy, 
yellow)  in  Armagh.  Other  modifications  are  seen 
in  Casey  Glebe  in  Donegal ;  Cassagh  in  Kil- 
kenny ;  and  in  Cornakessagh  in  Fermanagh,  the 
round  hill  of  the  wicker  causeway.  Kishogue,  little 
kish,  is  the  name  of  a  place  near  Lucan  in  Dublin. 

Those  wickerwork  causeways  were  also  often 
designated  by  the  word  cliath  [clee],  which  pri- 
marily means  a  hurdle  j  the  diminutive  ckthnat 

CHAP,  v.]      Fords,  Weirs,  and  Bridges.  363 

glosses  tigillum  in  the  Sg.  MS.  of  Zeuss  (Gram, 
elt.,  p.  282) ;  and  it  is  cognate  with  Lat.  clitellce 
and  Fr.  claie.  An  artificial  ford  of  this  kind  was 
constructed  across  the  Liffey  (see  p.  45),  in  very 
early  ages  ;  and  the  city  that  subsequently  sprung 
up  around  it  was  from  this  circumstance  called 
Ath-cliath  [Ah-clee],  the  ford  of  hurdles,  which 
was  the  ancient  name  of  Dublin.  This  is  the  name 
still  used  by  speakers  of  Irish  in  every  part  of 
Ireland ;  but  they  join  it  to  Bally — Baile-atha- 
cliath  (which  they  pronounce  Blaa-clee),  the  town 
of  the  hurdle  ford. 

The  present  name,  Dublin,  is  written  in  the 
annals  Duibh-linn,  which  in  the  ancient  Latin  Life 
of  St.  Kevin,  is  translated  nigra  therma,  i.  e.  black 
pool ;  it  was  originally  the  name  of  that  part  of 
the  Liffey  on  which  the  city  is  built,  and  is  suffi- 
ciently descriptive  at  the  present  day.  Duibh-linn 
is  sounded  Duvlin  or  Divlin,  and  it  was  undoubtedly 
so  pronounced  down  to  a  comparatively  recent 
period  by  speakers  of  both  English  and  Irish ; 
tor  in  old  English  writings,  as  well  as  on  Danish 
coins,  we  find  the  name  written  Divlin,  Dyflin,  &c., 
and  even  yet  the  Welsh  call  it  Dulin.  The  pre- 
sent name  has  been  formed  by  the  restoration  of 
the  aspired  b  (see  p.  43,  supra). 

There  are  several  other  places  through  Ireland 
called  Duibhlinn,  but  the  aspiration  of  the  b  is 
observed  in  all,  and  consequently  not  one  of  them 
has  taken  the  anglicised  form  Dublin.  Devlin  is 
the  name  of  eight  townlands  in  Donegal,  Mayo, 
and  Monaghan  ;  Dowling  occurs  near  Fiddown  in 
Kilkenny,  Doolin  in  Clare,  and  Ballindoolin,  the 
town  of  the  black  pool,  in  Kildare. 

In  several  of  these  cases,  the  proper  name  was 
Ath-cliath,  hurdle  ford,  which  was  formerly  com- 
mon as  a  local  name;  and  they  received  thoir 

364  Artificial  Structures.         [PART  in. 

present  names  merely  in  imitation  of  Dublin ;  for, 
as  the  people  when  speaking  Irish,  always  called 
the  metropolis,  Baile-atha-cliath,  and  in  English, 
Dublin,  they  imagined  that  the  latter  was  a  trans- 
lation of  the  former,  and  translated  the  names  of 
their  own  places  accordingly. 

A  row  of  stepping-stones  across  a  ford  on  a 
river,  is  called  in  every  part  of  Ireland  by  the 
name  of  clochan,  pronounced  clackan  in  the  north 
of  Ireland  and  in  Scotland.  This  mode  of  ren- 
dering a  river  fordable  was  as  common  in  ancient 
as  it  is  in  modern  times ;  for  in  the  tract  of  Brehon 
Laws  in  the  Book  of  Ballymote,  regulating  the 
stipend  of  various  kinds  of  artificers,  it  is  stated 
that  the  builder  of  a  clochan  is  to  be  paid  two  cows 
for  his  labour. 

These  stepping-stones  have  given  names  to 
places  in  all  parts  of  Ireland,  now  called  Cloghan, 
Cloghane,  and  Cloghaun,  the  first  being  more 
common  in  the  north,  and  the  two  last  in  the  south. 
Cloghanaskaw  in  Westmeath,  was  probably  so 
called  from  a  ford  shaded  with  trees,  for  the  name 
signifies  the  stepping-stones  of  the  shade  or 
shadow ;  Cloghanleagh,  grey  stepping-stones,  was 
the  old  name  of  Dunglow  in  Donegal ;  Cloghane- 
nagleragh  in  Kerry,  the  stepping-stones  of  the 
clergy;  Ballycloghan  and  Ballincloghan,  the  town 
of  the  cloghan,  are  the  names  of  several  townlands. 

Clochan  is  sometimes  applied  to  a  stone  castle, 
and  in  some  of  the  names  containing  this  root,  it 
is  to  be  understood  in  this  sense.  And  in  Cork 
and  Kerry  it  is  also  used  to  denote  an  ancient 
stone  house  of  a  beehive  shape. 

When  there  were  no  means  of  making  a  river 
fordable,  there  remained  the  never-failing  re- 
source of  swimming.  When  rivers  had  to  be  crossed 
in  this  manner,  certain  points  seem  to  have  been 

CHAP,  v.]     Fords,  Weirs,  and  Bridges.  365 

selected,  which  were  considered  more  suitable  than 
others  for  swimming  across,  either  because  the 
stream  was  narrower  there  than  elsewhere,  or  that 
it  was  less  dangerous  on  account  of  the  stillness  of 
the  water,  or  that  the  shape  of  the  banks  afforded 
peculiar  facilities.  Such  spots  were  often  desig- 
nated by  the  word  snamh  [snauv],  which  literally 
means  swimming :  a  word  often  met  with  in  our 
old  historical  writings  in  the  sense  of  a  swimming  - 
ford,  and  which  forms  part  of  several  of  our  pre- 
sent names. 

Lixnaw  on  the  river  Brick  in  Kerry,  is  called 
in  the  Four  Masters  Lic-snamha  [Licksnawa],  the 
flag-stone  of  the  swimming ;  the  name  probably 
indicating  that  there  was  a  large  stone  on  the 
bank,  from  which  the  swimmers  were  accustomed 
to  fling  themselves  off ;  and  Portnaswow  near  En- 
niskillen  (port,  a  bank),  is  a  name  of  similar  origin. ' 
About  midway  between  GlengarrifE  and  Bantry, 
the  traveller  crosses  Snave  bridge,  where  before 
the  erection  of  the  bridge,  the  deep  transparent 
creek  at  the  mouth  of  the  Coomhola  river  must 
have  been  generally  crossed  by  swimming.  So 
with  the  Shannon  at  Drumsna  in  Leitrim ;  the 
Erne  at  Drumsna,  one  mile  south-east  of  Ennis- 
killen  ;  and  the  narrow  part  of  the  western  arm  of 
Lough  Corrib  at  Drumsnauv ;  all  of  which  names 
are  from  the  Irish  Druim-snamha  [Drum-snauva], 
the  hill-ridge  of  the  swimming-ford. 

When  the  article  is  used  with  this  word  snamh 
the  s  is  eclipsed  by  t,  as  we  see  in  Carrigatna  in 
Kilkenny,  which  is  in  Irish  Carraig-a' -tsnamha, 
the  rock  of  the  swimming  ;  and  Glanatnaw  in  the 
parish  of  Caheragh,  Cork,  where  the  people  used 
to  swim  across  the  stream  that  runs  through  the 
glan  or  glen.  In  the  north  of  Ireland  the  n  of 
this  construction  is  replaced  by  r  (seep.  51  supra), 

366  Artificial  Structures*          [PART  m. 

as  in  Ardatrave  on  the  shore  of  Lough  Erne  in 
Fermanagh,  Ard-a'-tsnamha  [Ardatnauva],  the 
height  of  the  swimming.  Immediately  after  the 
Shannon  issues  from  Lough  Allen,  it  flows  under 
a  bridge  now  called  Ballintra  ;  but  "Weld,  in  his 
"  Survey  of  Roscommon,"  calls  \iBallintrave,  which 
points  to  the  Irish  B^l-an-tsnamha  [Bellantnauva], 
the  ford  of  the  swimming,  and  very  clearly  indi- 
cates the  usual  mode  of  crossing  the  river  there  in 
former  ages.  A  better  form  of  this  same  name  is 
preserved  in  Bellantra  Bridge  crossing  the  Black 
River  in  Leitrim,  on  the  road  from  Drumlish  to 

The  lower  animals,  like  the  human  inhabitants, 
had  often  their  favourite  spots  on  rivers  or 
lakes,  where  they  swam  across  in  their  wanderings 
from  place  to  place.  On  the  shore  of  the  little 
lake  of  Muckno  in  Monaghan,  where  it  nar- 
rows in  the  middle,  there  was  once  a  well-known 
religious  establishment  called  in  the  annals  Muc- 
shnamh  [Mucknauv],  the  swimming  place  of  the 
pigs  (muc,  a  pig),  which  has  been  softened  to  the 
present  name  Muckno.  Some  of  our  ecclesiastical 
writers  derive  this  name  from  a  legend ;  but  the 
natural  explanation  seems  to  be,  that  wild  pigs 
were  formerly  in  the  habit  of  crossing  the  lake  at 
this  narrow  part.  Exactly  the  same  remark  applies 
to  the  Kenmare  river,  where  it  is  now  spanned  by 
the  suspension  bridge  at  the  town.  It  was  nar- 
rowed at  this  point  by  a  spit  of  land  projecting 
from  the  northern  shore  ;  and  here  in  past  ages, 
wild  pigs  used  to  swim  across  so  frequently  and 
in  such  numbers,  that  the  place  was  called  Muc- 
snamh  or  Mucksna,  which  is  now  well  known  as 
the  name  of  a  little  hamlet  near  the  bridge,  and 
of  the  hill  that  rises  over  it,  at  the  south  side  of 
the  river. 

JHAP.  v.]     Fords,  Weirs,  and  Bridges.  367 

A  weir  across  a  river,  either  for  fishing  or  to 
divert  a  mill-stream,  is  called  in  Irish  cor  a  or 
coradh  [curra].  Brian  Borumha's  palace  of  Kin- 
cora  was  built  on  a  hill  near  the  present  town  of 
Killaloe,  and  it  is  repeatedly  mentioned  in  the 
annals  by  the  name  of  Ceann-coradh,  the  head  or 
hill  of  the  weir ;  from  which  we  may  infer  that 
there  was  a  fishing  weir  across  the  Shannon  at 
this  point,  from  early  times.  There  is  another 
Kincora  in  King's  County,  in  which  was  a  castle 
mentioned  by  the  Four  Masters,  and  called  by  the 
same  Irish  name.  And  we  find  Tikincor  in  Water- 
ford,  the  house  at  the  head  of  the  weir. 

Ballinacor  in  Glenmalure  in  Wicklow,  which 
gives  name  to  two  baronies,  is  called  in  the  Leabhar 
Branach,  Baile-na-corra,  the  town  of  the  W3ir. 
There  are  several  other  places  of  the  same  name 
in  "Wicklow  and  Westmeath ;  and  it  is  modified  to 
Ballinacur  in  Wexford,  and  to  Ballinacurra  or 
Ballynacorra  in  several  counties,  the  best  known 
place  of  the  name  being  Ballynacorra  on  Cork 
harbour.  Corrofin  in  Clare  is  called  by  the  Four 
Masters  Coradh-Finne,  the  weir  of  Finna,  a  woman's 
name  (see  p.  174,  supra]  ;  in  the  same  authority 
we  find  Drumcar  in  Louth,  written  Druim-caradh 
[Drumcara],  the  ridge  of  the  weir  ;  and  here  the 
people  still  retain  the  tradition  of  the  ancient 
weir  on  the  river  Dee,  and  point  out  its  site ; 
Smith  (Hist,  of  Cork,  II.,  254)  states  that  there 
was  formerly  an  eel- weir  of  considerable  profit  at 
the  castle  of  Carrignacurra  on  the  river  Lee  near 
Inchigeelagh ;  and  the  name  bears  out  his  asser- 
tion, for  it  signifies  the  rock  of  the  weir. 

"  The  origin  of  stone  bridges  in  Ireland  is  not 
very  accurately  ascertained;  but  this  much  at 
least  appears  certain,  that  none  of  any  importance 
were  erected  previous  to  the  twelfth  century" 

368  Artificial  Structures.  [PART  in. 

(Petrie,  "  Dub.  Pen.  Journal,"  I.,  150).  Droichet, 
as  it  is  given  in  Cormac's  Glossary,  or  in  modern 
Irish,  droichead  [drohed],  is  the  word  universally 
employed  to  denote  a  bridge,  and  under  this  name 
bridges  are  mentioned  in  our  oldest  authorities. 
The  fourteenth  abbot  of  lona,  from  A.D.  726  to 
752,  was  Cilline,  who  was  surnamed  Droichteach, 
i.  e.  the  bridge  maker ;  and  Fiachna,  the  son  of 
Aedh  Roin,  king  of  Ulidia  in  the  eighth  century, 
was  called  Fiachna  Dubh  Droichtech,  black  Fi- 
achna of  the  bridges,  because  "it  was  he  that 
made  Droichet-na-Feirsi  (the  bridge  of  the  farset, 
see  p.  361),  and  Droichet- Mona-daimh  (the  bridge 
of  the  bog  of  the  ox),  and  others."  It  is  almost 
certain,  however,  that  these  structures  were  of 
wood,  and  that  bridges  with  stone  arches  were  not 
built  till  after  the  arrival  of  the  Anglo-Normans. 

Many  places  in  Ireland  have  taken  their  names 
from  bridges,  and  the  word  droichead  is  often 
greatly  modified  by  modern  corruption.  It  is  to 
be  observed  that  the  place  chosen  for  the  erection 
of  a  bridge  was  very  usually  where  the  river  had 
already  been  crossed  by  a  ford ;  for  besides  the 
convenience  of  retaining  the  previously  existing 
roads,  the  point  most  easily  f ordable  was  in  general 
most  suitable  for  a  bridge.  There  are  many 
places  whose  names  preserve  the  memory  of  this, 
of  which  Drogheda  is  a  good  example.  This  place 
is  repeatedly  mentioned  in  old  authorities,  and 
always  called  Droichead-atha  [Drohed-aha],  the 
bridge  of  the  ford ;  from  which  the  present  name 
was  easily  formed ;  pointing  clearly  to  the  fact, 
that  the  first  bridge  was  built  over  the  ford  where 
the  northern  road  along  the  coast  crossed  the 

There  is  a  townland  in  Kildare  called  Drehid, 
and  another  in  Londonderry  called  Droghed; 

CHAP,  v."]     Fords,  Weirs,  and  Bridges.  369 

Drehidtarsna  (cross-bridge)  is  a  parish  in  Limerick; 
Ballydrehid  and  Ballindrehid,  the  town  of  the 
bridge,  are  the  names  of  some  townlands,  the 
same  as  Ballindrait  in  Donegal.  The  memory  of 
the  two  modes  of  crossing  is  preserved  in  the 
name  of  Belladrihid  near  Ballysadare  in  Sligo, 
which  the  Four  Masters  write  Bel-an-droichit,  the 
ford  of  the  bridge.  Five  miles  east  of  Macroom, 
near  a  bridge  over  the  Lee,  there  is  a  rock  in  the 
river  on  which  stands  a  castle,  called  Carrigadro- 
hid,  the  rock  of  the  bridge :  according  to  a  legend 
told  in  the  neighbourhood,  the  castle  was  built  by 
one  of  the  Mac  Carthys  with  the  money  extorted 
from  a  leprechaun  (see  p.  190,  supra). 

The  word  is  obscured  in  Knockacfm£,  the  hill 
of  the  bridge,  in  Wicklow,  which  same  name  is 
correctly  anglicised  Knockadrehid  in  Hoscommon. 
A  like  difference  is  observable  between  Druma- 
drehid  and  T)T\imadried,  the  ridge  of  the  bridge, 
the  former  in  Clare,  and  the  latter  in  Antrim ; 
and  between  Rosdrehid  in  the  south  of  King's 
County,  and  Rossdroit  south-west  of  Enniscorthy, 
both  meaning  the  wood  of  the  bridge.  The  parish 
of  Kildrought  in  Kildare  took  its  name  from  a 
bridge  over  the  Liffey,  the  Irish  form  being  Oill- 
droichid,  the  church  of  the  bridge.  Though  the 
parish  retains  the  old  name,  that  of  the  original 
spot  is  changed  by  an  incorrect  translation ;  the 
first  part  was  altered  to  Cel,  and  the  last  part 
translated,  forming  Celbridge,  the  name  of  a  well- 
known  town.  What  renders  this  more  certain  is, 
that  the  place  is  called  Kyldroghet,  in  an  Inquisi- 
tion of  William  and  Mary. 

VOL.  T.  25 

370  Artificial  Structures.  [PART  in. 



"ACCORDING  to  the  Irish  annals,  and  other  frag- 
ments of  our  native  history,  the  ancient  Irish  had 
many  roads  which  were  cleaned  and  kept  in  repair 
according  to  law.  The  different  terms  used  to 
denote  road,  among  the  ancient  Irish,  are  thus 
defined  in  Cormac's  Glossary,  from  which  a  pretty 
accurate  idea  may  be  formed  of  their  nature" 
(O'Donovan,  Book  of  Rights,  Introd.,  p.  Ivi.). 
0 'Donovan  then  quotes  Cormac's  enumeration  of 
the  different  terms,  several  of  which  are  still  used. 
According  to  the  Dinnsenchus,  there  were  an- 
ciently five  great  roads  leading  to  Tara,  from  five 
different  directions;  and  it  would  appear  from 
several  authorities  that  they  were  constructed  in 
the  reign  of  Felimy  the  lawgiver,  in  the  second 
century  (see  p.  129,  supra).  Besides  these  great 
highways,  numerous  other  roads  are  mentioned  in 
our  annals  and  tales,  many  of  which  are  enume- 
rated in  O 'Donovan's  valuable  introduction  to  the 
Book  of  Rights. 

Among  the  different  Irish  words  to  denote  a 
road,  the  most  common  and  best  known  is  bothar 
[boher]  ;  and  its  diminutive  bohereen  is  almost  on 
the  eve  of  acknowledgment  as  an  English  word. 
It  originally  meant  a  road  for  cattle,  being  derived 
from  bo,  a  cow ;  and  Cormac  defines  its  breadth 
to  be  such  that  "two  cows  fit  upon  it,  one  length- 
wise, the  other  athwart,  and  their  calves  and  year 
lings  fit  on  it  along  with  them." 

The  word  is  scarcely  used  at  all  in  Ulster ;  but 
in  the  other  provinces,  the  anglicised  forms  Boher 

CHAP,  vi.]         Roads  and  Causeways.  371 

and  Bohereen  or  Borheen,  constitute  part  of  a 
great  number  of  names,  and  they  are  themselves 
the  names  of  several  places.  There  is  a  townland 
in  Gal  way  called  Bohercuill,  the  road  of  the  hazel 
(coll) ;  and  this  same  name  becomes  Boherkyle  in 
Kilkenny,  Boherkill  in  Kildare,  and  Boherquiil  in 
Westmeath ;  while  with  the  diminutive,  it  is 
found  as  Bohereenkyle  in  Limerick. 

Sometimes  the  word  is  contracted  to  one  syllable ; 
as  we  find,  for  instance,  in  Borleagh  and  Borna- 
courtia  in  Wexf  ord,  grey  road,  and  the  road  of 
the  court  or  mansion ;  and  Borderreen  in  King's 
County,  the  road  of  the  little  wood.  When  the 
word  occurs  as  a  termination,  the  b  is  often  aspi- 
rated (p.  19),  as  in  the  common  townland  name, 
Ballinvoher,  the  town  of  the  road ;  and  in  this 
case  we  also  sometimes  find  it  contracted,  as  in 
Cartronbore  near  Granard,  the  quarter-land  of 
the  road.  For  the  change  of  bothar  to  batter,  see 
p.  44,  supra. 

Slighe  or  Sligheadh  [slee]  was  anciently  applied 
by  the  Irish  to  the  largest  roads ;  the  five  great 
roads  leading  to  Tara,  for  instance,  were  called  by 
this  name.  The  word  is  still  in  common  use  in 
the  vernacular,  but  it  has  not  entered  very  ex- 
tensively into  names. 

Slee  near  Enniskillen  preserves  the  exact  pro- 
nunciation of  the  original  word ;  Clonaslee,  a 
village  in  Queen's  County,  is  the  meadow  of  the 
road ;  Bruslee  in  Antrim,  indicates  that  a  brugh 
or  mansion  stood  near  the  old  road ;  and  Sleeman- 
agh  near  Castletownroche  in  Cork,  is  middle  road. 
Sleehaun,  little  road,  is  the  name  of  some  places 
in  Longford  and  Donegal ;  and  in  Roscommon  we 
find  Cornasleehan,  the  round-hill  of  the  little 

Realach  [ballugh],  signifies  a  road  or  pass.     It 

372  Artificial  Structures.         £PART  in. 

forms  part  of  the  well-known  battle  cry  of  the 
88th  Connaught  Rangers,  Fag-a-bealach,  clear  the 
road.  Ballagh,  the  usual  modern  form,  consti- 
tutes or  begins  the  names  of  a  number  of  places ; 
near  several  of  these  the  ancient  roadways  may  be 
traced ;  and  in  some  cases  they  are  still  used. 
Ballaghboy,  yellow  road,  was  formerly  the  name 
of  several  old  highways,  and  is  still  retained  by  a 
number  of  townlands.  Ballaghmoon,  two  miles 
north  of  Carlow,  where  the  battle  in  which  Cormac 
Mac  Cullenan  was  killed,  was  fought  in  the  year 
903,  is  called  in  the  Book  of  Leinster,  Bealach- 
Mughna,  Mughan's  or  Mooan's  pass  ;  but  we  know 
not  who  this  Mughan  was. 

The  great  road  from  Tara  to  the  south-west, 
called  Slighe  Dala,  is  still  remembered  in  the 
name  of  a  townland  in  Queen's  County,  which 
enables  us  to  identify  at  least  one  point  in  its 
course.  This  road  was  also  called  Ballaghmore 
Moydala  (the  great  road  of  the  plain  of  the  con- 
ference), and  the  first  part  of  this  old  name 
is  retained  by  the  townland  of  Ballaghmore 
near  Stradbally.  There  are  several  other  places 
in  Leinster  an'd  Munster  called  Ballaghmore,  but 
none  with  such  interesting  associations  as  this. 

Several  other  well-known  places  retain  the 
memory  of  those  old  bealachs.  Ballaghadereen  in 
Mayo,  is  called  in  Irish  Bealach-a-doirm,  the  road 
of  the  little  oak-wood ;  the  village  of  Ballaghkeen 
in  Wexford,  was  originally  called  Bealach-caein, 
beautiful  road ;  and  Ballaghkeeran  near  Athlone, 
must  have  been  formerly  shaded  with  keerans  or 

When  this  word  occurs  as  a  termination,  it  is 
very  often  changed  to  vally  by  the  aspiration  of 
the  b,  and  the  disappearance  of  the  final  guttural. 
There  are  townlands  scattered  through  the  four 

CHAP,  vi.]          Roads  and  Causetvays.  373 

provinces  called  Ballinvally  and  Ballyvally,  the 
town  of  the  road ;  which  in  Limerick  is  made 
Ballinvallig,  by  the  restoration  of  the  final  g 
(p.  31),  So  also  Moyvally,  the  name  of  a  place 
in  Carlow,  and  of  another  in  Kildare — the  latter  a 
station  on  the  Midland  railway — the  plain  or  field 
of  the  road.  The  word  has  another  form  still  in 
Revallagh  near  Coleraine,  clear  or  open  (reidh) 
road — so  called,  no  doubt,  to  distinguish  it  from 
some  other  road  difficult  of  passage.  For  the 
word  rod,  a  road,  see  2nd  Vol.,  Chap.  xm. 

Casan  signifies  a  path.  It  is  a  term  that  does 
not  often  occur,  but  we  find  a  few  places  to  which 
it  gives  names ;  such  as  Cassan  in  Fermanagh ; 
Cussan  in  Kilkenny ;  and  Cossaun  near  Athenry 
in  Galway — all  of  which  mean  simply  "  path :  " 
the  same  name  is  corrupted  to  Carsan  in  Monagh- 
an ;  and  the  plural  Cussana  (paths)  is  the  name 
of  two  townlands  in  Kilkenny.  Ardnagassan 
near  Donegal,  and  Ardnagassane  in  Tipperary, 
are  both  called  in  the  original  Ard-na-gcasan,  the 
height  of  the  paths. 

It  is  curious  that  the  river  Cashen  in  Kerry 
derives  its  name  from  this  word.  It  is  called 
Cashen  as  far  as  it  is  navigable  for  curraghs,  i.  e. 
up  to  the  junction  of  the  Feale  and  the  Brick  ; 
and  its  usual  name  in  the  annals  is  Casan-Kernj , 
i.  e.  the  path  to  Kerry — being  as  it  were  the  high- 
road to  that  ancient  territory.  But  the  term  waa 
also  applied  to  other  streams.  The  mouth  of  the 
Ardee  river  in  Louth  was  anciently  called  Casan- 
Linne  ("Circuit  of  Ireland");  and  the  village  of 
Annagassan  partly  preserves  this  old  name — Ath- 
na-gcasan,  the  ford  of  the  paths — probably  in  re- 
ference to  the  two  rivers,  Glyde  and  Dee,  which 
join  near  the  village  (see  Dr.  Todd  in  "  Wars  oi 
GGr./'  Introd.,  p.  Ixii,  note  1). 

374  Artificial  Structures.          ["PATIT  in 

In  early  ages,  before  the  extension  of  cultiva- 
tion and  drainage,  the  roads  through  the  country 
must  have  often  been  interrupted  by  bogs  and 
morasses,  which,  when  practicable,  were  made 
passable  by  causeways.  They  were  variously  con- 
ptructed ;  but  the  materials  were  generally 
branches  of  trees,  bushes,  earth,  and  stones, 
placed  in  alternate  layers,  and  trampled  down  till 
they  were  sufficiently  firm ;  and  they  were  called 
by  the  Irish  name  of  tochar. 

These  tochars  were  very  common  all  over  the 
country;  our  annals  record  the  construction  of 
many  in  early  ages,  and  some  of  these  are  still 
traceable.  They  have  given  names  to  a  number 
of  townlands  and  villages,  several  of  them  called 
Togher,  and  many  others  containing  the  word  in 
combination.  Ballintogher,  the  town  of  the 
causeway,'  is  a  very  usual  name  (but  Ballintogher 
in  Sligo  appears  to  be  a  different  name — see  this 
in  2nd  Vol.) ;  and  Templetogher  (the  church  of 
the  togher),  in  Gralway  was  so  called  from  a  cele- 
brated causeway  across  a  bog,  whose  situation  is 
still  well  known  to  the  inhabitants. 



MANY  authorities  concur  in  showing  that  water 
mills  were  known  in  this  country  in  very  remote 
ages,  and  that  they  were  even  more  common  in 
ancient  than  in  modern  times.  We  know  from 
the  Lives  of  the  Irish  saints,  that  several  of  them 
erected  mills  where  they  settled,  shortly  after  the 
introduction  of  Christianity,  as  St.  Senanus,  St. 

CHAP,  vii.]  Mills  and  Kilns.  375 

Ciaran,  St.  Mochua,  St.  Fechin,  &c. ;  and  in 
some  cases  mills  still  exist  on  the  very  sites  se- 
lected by  the  original  founders — as,  for  instance, 
at  Fore  in  Westmeath,  where  "  St.  Fechin's  mill  " 
works  as  busily  to-day  as  it  did  twelve  hundred 
years  ago.  "We  may  infer,  moreover,  from  seve- 
ral grants  and  charters  of  the  eleventh  and  twelfth 
centuries,  that,  where  circumstances  permitted,  a, 
mill  was  a  usual  appendage  to  a  ballybetagh,  or 
ancient  townland. 

It  appears  certain  that  water  mills  were  used  in 
Ireland  before  the  introduction  of  Christianity. 
For  we  have  reliable  historical  testimony  that 
Cormac  mac  Art,  monarch  of  Ireland  in  the  third 
c.entury,  sent  across  the  sea  for  a  millwright,  who 
constructed  a  mill  on  the  stream  of  Nith,  which 
flowed  from  the  well  of  Neamhnach  [Navnagh]  at 
Tara.  "  The  ancient  Irish  authorities  all  agree  in 
stating  that  this  was  the  first  mill  ever  erected  in 
Ireland ;  and  it  is  remarkable  that  this  circum- 
stance is  still  most  vividly  preserved  by  tradition 
not  only  in  the  neighbourhood,  where  a  mill  still 
occupies  its  site,  but  also  in  most  parts  of  Ireland. 
Tradition  adds  that  it  was  from  the  king  of  Scot- 
land the  Irish  monarch  obtained  the  millwright, 
and  it  can  be  shown  that  the  probability  of  its 
truth  is  strongly  corroborated  by  that  circum- 
stance "*  (see  Mullenoran  in  2nd  Vol.). 

The  Irish  word  for  a  mill  is  muilenn  [mullen] 
and  this  term  exists  in  several  of  the  Indo-Euro- 
pean languages : — Sansc.  malana,  the  action  of 
grinding ;  Lat.  molo  to  grind ;  Goth,  malan;  Eng. 
mill.  A  very  considerable  number  of  places  in 
Ireland  have  taken  their  names  from  mills,  and 

*  From  the  Ordnance  memoir  of  the  parish  of  Templemore 
See  also  O'Donovan's  article  on  the  antiquity  of  corn  in  Ire- 
land in  the  Dublin  Penny  Journal,  and  Petrie  s  Essay  on  Tara. 

376  Artificial  Structures.          [PART  in. 

the  most  usual  anglicised  form  of  muilenn  is  Mullen 
or  Mullin 

Mullennakill  in  Kilkenny,  is  in  Irish,  Muiknn- 
na-cille,  the  mill  of  the  church ;  and  Mullinavat, 
in  the  same  county  is  Muilenn-a'-bhata,  the  mill 
of  the  stick  When  this  word  occurs  as  a  termi- 
nation the  m  is  often  changed  to  w  by  aspiration 
(p.  19),  as  in  Mawillian  in  Londonderry,  Magh- 
mhuilinn,  the  plain  of  the  mill.  Ballywillin  is 
the  name  of  a  parish  on  the  borders  of  Antrim 
and  Londonderry,  and  of  several  townlands  in 
these  and  other  counties  ;  while  the  form  Ballin- 
willin  is  very  frequent  in  some  of  the  southern 
counties ;  this  name  signifies  the  town  of  the  mill, 
and  it  is  often  so  translated,  from  which  has  origi- 
nated the  very  common  name  Milltown.  Cloona- 
willen  is  the  name  of  five  townlands,  the  same  as 
Clonmullin  and  Cloonrnullin,  all  signifying  the 
cloon  01  meadow  of  the  mill ;  there  is  a  parish  in 
Monaghan  called  Aghnamullen,  and  two  town- 
lands  in  Leitrim  called  Aghawillin,  the  former 
the  field  of  the  mills,  and  the  latter,  of  the  mill ; 
Killawillin  on  the  Blackwater,  near  Castletown- 
roche  in  Cork,  is  called  in  Irish  by  the  people 
Cill-a? -mhuilinn,  the  church  of  the  mill;  Killy- 
willin,  the  name  of  a  townland  in  Fermanagh, 
and  of  another  in  Cavan,  is  different,  the  lattei 
place  being  called  by  the  Four  Masters,  Coill-an~ 
mhuilinn,  the  wood  of  the  mill. 

A  quern  or  hand  mill  is  designated  by  the  won) 
bro,  which  is  also  applied  to  the  mill-stone  used 
with  water  mills ;  genitive  Iron  or  broin  [brone], 
plural  brointe  [broanty].  We  find  this  word  in 
the  names  of  several  places,  where  it  is  likely 
there  were  formerly  water  mills  or  hand  mills, 
thi  owners  of  which  made  their  living  by  grinding 
their  neighbours'  corn-  Coolnabrone,  the  hill- 

CHAP,  vii.]  Mills  and  Kilns.  877 

back  of  the  quern  or  mill- stone,  is  the  name  of 
two  townlands  in  Kilkenny ;  and  in  the  same 
county  near  Fiddown,  is  Tobernabrone,  the  well 
of  the  quern ;  Clonbrone  and  Cloonbrone,  the 
meadow  of  the  mill- stone,  are  the  names  of  some 
townlands  in  King's  County,  Gralway,  and  Mayo. 

Before  the  potato  came  into  general  use  it  was 
customary  for  families — those  especially  who  were 
not  within  easy  reach  of  a  mill — to  grind  their 
own  corn  for  home  consumption  ;  and  the  quern 
was  consequently  an  instrument  of  very  general 
use.  "We  may  presume  that  there  were  professional 
quern  makers,  and  we  know  for  a  certainty  that 
some  places  received  names  from  producing  stones 
well  suited  for  querns.  Such  a  place  is  Oarrig- 
eenamronety,  a  hill  near  Ballyorgan  in  Limerick, 
on  whose  side  there  is  a  ridge  of  rocks,  formerly 
much  resorted  to  by  the  peasantry  for  quern 
stones ;  its  Irish  name  is  Carraigm-na-mbrointe, 
the  little  rock  of  the  mill-stones ;  and  there  are 
other  rocks  of  the  same  name  in  Limerick.  So 
also  Bronagh  in  Leitrim,  i.  e.  a  place  abounding 
in  mill- stones. 

Aith  [ah]  denotes  a  kiln  of  any  kind,  whether 
a  lime-kiln  or  a  kiln  for  drying  corn.  It  is  gene- 
rally found  in  the  end  of  names,  joined  with  na, 
the  gen.  fern,  of  the  article,  followed  by  h,  by 
which  it  is  distinguished  from  ath,  a  ford,  which 
takes  an  in  the  genitive.  There  are  several  places 
in  Monaghan  and  Armagh,  called  Annahaia  and 
Annahagh,  all  of  which  are  from  the  Irish,  Aih- 
na-haithe,  the  ford  of  the  kiln  ;  we  find  Ballyna- 
haha  in  Limerick,  and  Ballynahaia  in  Cavan 
(Bally,  a  town) ;  in  Antrim,  Lisnahay  (Lts,  a  fort) ; 
Gortnahey  in  Londonderry,  Gortnahaha  in  Clare 
and  Tipperary,  and  Aughnahoy  in  Antrim,  all  of 
which  signify  the  field  of  the  kiln. 





IKE  most  other  countries,  Ire- 
land has  a  large  proportion  of 
its  territorial  names  derived 
from  those  of  hills.  For  hills, 
being  the  most  conspicuous 
physical  features,  are  naturally 
often  fixed  upon,  in  preference 
to  others,  to  designate  the  dis- 
)tr/cts  in  which  they  stand. 
There  are  at  least  twenty-five 
words  in  the  Irish  language  for 
a  hill,  besides  many  others  to 
denote  rocks,  points,  slopes,  and 
cliffs;  and  all  without  exception  have  impressed 
themselves  on  the  nomenclature  of  the  country. 
Many  of  these  are  well  distinguished  one  from  an- 
other, each  being  applied  to  a  hill  of  some  particular 
shape  or  formation ;  but  several,  though  they  may 
have  been  formerly  different  in  meaning,  are  now 
used  synonymously,  so  that  it  is  impossible  to 

CTTAP.  T.]     Mountains,  Hills,  and  Rc'to  379 

make  any  distinction  between  them,  i  will  here 
enumerate  them,  and  illustrate  the  manner  in 
which  names  are  formed  from  each. 

Sliabh  [sleeve]  signifies  a  mountain ;  and  ac- 
cording to  O'Brien,  it  was  sometimes  applied  to 
any  heath-land,  whether  mountain  or  plain.  It 
occurs  in  the  Zeuss  MSS.  in  the  old  Irish  form 
sliab,  which  glosses  mons.  The  word  in  the  angli- 
cised form  of  slieve  is  applied  to  great  numbers  of 
the  principal  mountains  in  Ireland;  and  it  is 
almost  always  followed  by  a  limiting  term,  such 
as  an  adjective,  or  a  noun  in  the  genitive  case.  For 
example,  Slieve  Bernagh  in  the  east  of  Clare, 
gapped  mountain. 

This  word  is  occasionally  so  very  much  disguised 
in  modern  names,  that  it  is  difficult  to  recognise 
it ;  and  of  such  names  I  will  give  a  few  examples. 
There  is  a  mountain  west  of  Lough  Arrow  in 
Sligo  called  Bricklieve,  the  proper  Irish  name  of 
which  is  Breic-shliabh  (Four  Mast.),  speckled 
mountain,  and  the  s  has  disappeared  by  aspiration. 
The  same  thing  occurs  in  FinlifE  in  Down,  white 
mountain ;  in  Gk>rtinlieve  in  Donegal,  the  little 
field  of  the  mountain ;  and  in  Beglieve  in  Cavan, 
small  mountain.  The  parish  of  Killevy  in  Armagh 
took  its  name  from  an  old  church  situated  at  the 
foot  of  Slieve  Ghillion,  which  the  annalists  usually 
call  Cill-shleibhe,  i.  e.  the  church  of  the  mountain ; 
the  pronunciation  of  which  is  well  preserved  in 
the  modern  spelling. 

Sometimes  the  v  sound  is  omitted  altogether, 
and  this  often  happens  when  the  word  comes  in  as 
a  termination.  Sleamaine  in  Wicklow  is  angli- 
cised from  Sliabh-meadhoin,  middle  mountain ; 
Illaunslea  in  Kerry,  the  island  of  the  mountain. 
Slemish  in  Antrim  is  well  known  as  the  mountain 
where  St.  Patrick  passed  his  early  days  as  a  slave, 

880  Physical  Feature*.  [PART  iv 

herding  swine;  the  full  Irish  name  is  Sliabh-Mis, 
the  mountain  of  Mis,  a  woman's  name ;  and  there 
is  another  almost  equally  celebrated  mountain  in 
Kerry,  of  the  same  name,  now  called  Slieve  Mish, 
"  the  mountain  of  Mis,  the  daughter  of  Mureda, 
son  of  Cared  "  (Four  Masters). 

In  other  cases  both  the  s  and  v  are  lost,  as  for 
example  in  Crotlie  or  Cratlie,  the  name  of  several 
hills,  Croit-shliabh,  hump-backed  mountain — which 
in  other  places  is  made  Cratlieve.  In  a  great 
many  cases  the  sound  of  s  is  changed  to  that  of  t 
by  eclipse  (p.  23),  as  in  Ballintlea,  the  name  of 
about  fifteen  townlands  in  the  Munster  and  Leinster 
counties,  Baik-an-tskibhe,  the  town  of  the  moun- 
tain ;  the  same  name  as  Ballintleva  in  Galway  and 
Mayo,  Ballintlevy  in  Westmeath,  and  Ballintlieve 
in  Meath  and  Down ;  and  sometimes  this  t  again 
is  changed  to  c  from  the  difficulty  of  pronouncing 
the  combination  tl,  as  in  Ballinclea  in  the  glen  of 
Imail  in  Wicklow,  which  was  so  called  from 
Ballinclea  mountain  rising  over  it.  Baunatlea  in 
the  parish  of  Ballingaddy,  Limerick,  the  lawn  or 
green  field  of  the  mountain. 

The  plural  skibhte  [sleaty]  appears  in  Sleaty,  a 
celebrated  church  giving  name  to  a  village  and 
parish  in  Queen's  County.  There  can  be  no  doubt 
as  to  the  original  form  and  meaning  of  this  name, 
as  it  is  written  Skibhte  by  all  Irish  authorities  ; 
and  Colgan  translates  it  Monies,  i.  e.  mountains. 
The  name  must  have  been  originally  given  to  the 
church  from  its  contiguity  to  the  hills  of  Slieve 
Margy,  as  Killevy  was  called  so  from  its  proximity 
to  Slieve  Gullion. 

Skibhin  [slayveen],  a  diminutive  of  sliabh,  is 
applied  to  a  little  hill ;  in  modern  nomenclature 
it  is  usually  made  Sleveen,  which  is  the  name  of  a 
hill  rising  over  Macroom  in  Cork,  of  a  village  in 

CHAP,  i.]      Mountains,  Hills,  and  Rocks.  881 

Waterford,  and  of  nine  townlands  chiefly  in  the 
southern  counties.  Slevin  in  Roscommon,  is  the 
same  word ;  and  Slievinagee  in  the  same  county, 
signifies  the  little  mountain  of  the  wind  (gaeth}. 

Cnoc  signifies  a  hill ;  its  most  common  anglicised 
form  is  Knock,  in  which  the  k  is  usually  silent, 
but  in  the  original  the  first  c,  which  the  k  repre- 
sents, was  sounded  \cnoc,  pron.  kUnnUck,  the  first 
u  very  short].  There  is  a  conspicuous  isolated 
hill  near  Ballingarry  in  Limerick,  called  Knock- 
fierna,  a  noted  fairy  haunt.  It  serves  as  a  weather 
glass  to  the  people  of  the  circumjacent  plains, 
who  can  predict  with  certainty  whether  the  day 
will  be  wet  or  dry,  by  the  appearance  of  the 
summit  in  the  morning ;  and  hence  the  mountain 
is  called  Cnoc-firinne,  the  hill  of  truth,  i.  e.  of 
truthful  prediction.  Knockea  is  the  name  of  a  hill 
near  Grlenosheen,  three  miles  south  from  Kilfinane 
in  Limerick,  and  of  several  townlands,  all  of  which 
are  called  in  Irish  Cnoc-Aedha,  Aedh's  or  Hugh's 
hill,  probably  from  some  former  proprietors.  The 
well-known  hill  of  Knocklayd  in  Antrim  was  so 
called  from  its  shape,  Cnoc-leithid  [Knocklehid], 
literally  the  hill  of  breadth,  i.  e.  broad  hill. 

The  diminutives  Knockane,  Knockaun,  Knock- 
een,  and  Knickeen,  with  their  plurals,  form  the 
names  of  more  than  seventy  townlands,  all  so 
called  from  a  "  little  hill."  Ballyknockan  and 
Ballyknockane,  the  town  of  the  little  hill,  are  the 
names  of  about  twenty-five  townlands;  and  the 
places  called  Knockauneevin  in  Galway  and  Cork 
are  truly  described  by  the  name,  Cnocan-aeibhinn 
beautiful  little  hill. 

Cnuic,  the  genitive  of  cnoc,  is  often  made  knick 
and  nick  in  the  present  names,  as  the  diminutive 
cnuicin  is  sometimes  represented  by  Knickeen ;  and 
these  modern  forms  give  correctly  the  pronuncia- 

382  Physical  Features.  [PART  iv. 

tion  of  the  originals — except  of  course  the  silent 
.c.  Thus  Ballyknick  in  the  parish  of  Grange, 
Armagh,  which  is  the  same  as  the  very  common 
name,  Ballyknock,  the  town  of  the  hill ;  Tinnick 
in  Wexford,  and  Ticknick  or  Ticknock  on  the 
side  of  the  Three  Rock  mountain  in  Dublin,  Tigh- 
cnuic,  the  house  of  the  hill,  which  under  the  forms 
Ticknock  and  Tiknock,  is  the  name  of  several 
townlands  in  the  eastern  counties. 

The  word  is  still  further  modified  by  the  change 
of  n  to  r,  already  noticed  (p.  50),  which  prevails 
chiefly  in  the  northern  half  of  Ireland,  and  which 
converts  knock  into  crock  or  cruck.  Crockacapple 
in  the  parish  of  Kilbarron,  Donegal,  means  the 
hill  of  the  horse  (capall),  and  Crocknagapple  near 
Killybegs,  same  county,  the  hill  of  the  horses 
(Cnoc-na-gcapall) ;  and  these  two  names  are  the 
same  respectively  as  Knockacappul  and  Knock- 
nagappul,  which  are  found  in  other  counties. 
Crockshane  near  Rathcoole  in  Dublin,  John's  hill ; 
Crockanure  near  Kildare,  the  hill  of  the  yew-tree. 
The  diminutives  suffer  this  corruption  also,  and  we 
find  many  places  called  Crockaun,  Crickaun,  Crock- 
een,  Cruckeen,  and  Crickeen,  all  meaning  little 
hill.  The  syllable  Knock  begins  the  names  of 
about  1,800  townlands,  and  Crock  of  more  than 

Beann  [ban],  genitive  and  plural  beanna  [banna], 
signifies  a  horn,  a  gable,  a  peak,  or  pointed  hill; 
but  it  is  often  applied  to  any  steep  hill :  cognate 
with  Latin  pinna.  In  anglicised  names  it  is 
generally  spelled  ben  or  bin,  each  of  which  begins 
about  thirty  townland  names  ;  but  it  undergoes 
various  other  modifications ;  in  Cork  and  Kerry 
it  is  often  anglicised  Beoun,  to  represent  the 
southern  pronunciation. 

Beann  is  not  applied  to  great  mountains  so  much 

CHAP,  i.]      Mountains,  Hills,  and  Rocks.  383 

in  Ireland  as  in  Scotland,  where  they  have  Ben 
Lomond,  Ben  Nevis,  Benledi,  &c. ;  but  as  applied 
to  middle  and  smaller  eminences,  it  is  used  very 
extensively.  There  is  a  steep  hill  in  Westmeath, 
called  the  Ben  (i.  e.  the  peak)  of  Fore,  from  the 
village  near  its  base  ;  the  Irish  name  of  Bengore 
Head  in  Antrim  is  Beann-gabhar,  the  peak  of  the 
goats ;  the  same  as  Bengour  and  Bengower  in 
other  places.  Benburb,  now  the  name  of  a  village 
in  Tyrone,  the  scene  of  the  battle  in  1646,  was 
originally  applied  to  the  remarkable  cliff  over- 
hanging the  Blackwater,  on  which  the  castle  ruins 
now  stand ;  the  Irish  name  as  given  in  the  annals 
is  Beann-borb,  which  O'Sullivan  Bear  correctly 
translates  Pinna  superba,  the  proud  peak. 

The  Twelve  Pins,  a  remarkable  group  of  moun- 
tains in  Connemara,  derive  their  name  from  the 
same  word ;  Pins  being  a  modification  of  Bens, 
They  are  commonly  called  "  The  Twelve  Pins  of 
Bunnabeola,''  in  which  the  word  beann  occurs 
twice  ;  for  Bunnabeola  is  Benna-Beola,  the  peaks 
of  Beola.  This  Beola,  who  was  probably  an  old 
Firbolg  chieftain,  is  still  vividly  remembered  in 
tradition  ;  and  a  remarkable  person  he  must  have 
been,  for  the  place  of  his  interment  is  also  com- 
memorated, namely,  Toombeola,  Beola's  tumulus, 
which  is  a  townland  south  of  the  Twelve  Pins,  at 
the  head  of  Houndstone  bay,  containing  the  ruins 
of  an  abbey. 

The  adjective  form  beannach  is  applied  to  a  hilly 
place — a  place  full  of  bens  or  peaks ;  and  it  has 
given  name  to  Bannagh  in  Cork,  and  tor  Benagh 
in  Down  and  Louth.  This  word  appears  in 
Bannaghbane  and  Bannaghroe  (white,  red)  in 
Monaghan ;  and  Aghavannagh,  Irish  Achadh- 
bheannach,  hilly  field,  is  the  name  of  three  town- 
lands  in  Wicklow.  The  plural,  beanna,  is  found 

384  Physical  Features.  [PART  iv. 

in  Bannamore  and  Benamore  in  Tipperary,  great 
peaks :  and  in  the  form  Banna,  it  occurs  several 
times  in  Kerry.  Benbo,  a  conspicuous  mountain 
near  Manorhamilton,  is  written  by  the  Four  Mas- 
ters Beanna-bo,  the  peaks  or  horns  of  the  cow ;  it 
is  so  called  in  Irish,  and  it  appears  to  have  got  the 
name  from  its  curious  double  peak,  bearing  a  rude 
resemblance  to  a  cow's  horns. 

The  word  assumes  various  other  forms,  and 
enters  into  many  combinations,  of  which  the 
following  names  will  be  a  sufficient  illustration. 
The  old  name  of  Dunmanway  in  Cork  was  Dun- 
na-mbeann  [Dunnaman :  Four  Mast.],  the  fortress 
of  the  gables  or  pinnacles;  and  the  name  was 
probably  derived  from  the  ridge  of  rocks  north  of 
the  town,  or  perhaps  from  the  shape  of  the  old  dun. 
In  a  grant  made  in  the  time  of  Elizabeth,  the 
place  is  called  DouHiematimy,  from  which,  as  well 
indeed  as  from  the  tradition  of  the  inhabitants,  it 
appears  that  the  last  syllable  way — which  must  be 
a  modern  addition,  as  it  does  not  appear  in  the 
older  documents — is  a  corruption  of  the  Irish 
buidhe,  yellow  (b  changed  to  w  by  aspiration ;  p. 
19) : — Dunmanway,  the  fortress  of  the  yello-w 
pinnacles.  Dunnaman,  which  is  a  correct  angli- 
cised form  of  Dun-na-mbeann,  is  still  the  name  of 
a  townland  in  Down,  and  of  another  near  Groom 
in  Limerick.  Ballyiwgour  in  Carlow,  is  in  Irish, 
Baile-bheanna-gabhar,  the  town  of  the  pinnacle  of 
the  goats,  the  latter  part  (-vangourj,  being  the 
same  as  Bengore  in  Antrim  (see  last  page) ; 
Knockbine  in  Wexford,  the  hill  of  the  peak; 
Dunnavenny  in  Londonderry,  the  fortress  of  the 

The  word  has  several  diminutive  forms,  the 
most  common  of  which  is  beinnin  [benneen],  which 
gives  name  to  several  mountains  now  called  Binnion 

CHAP,  i.]    Mountains,  Hills,  and  JRocks.  385 

or  Bignion,  i.  e.  small  peak.  Another  diminutive 
beannacMn,  appears  in  Meenavanaghan  in  Done- 
gal, the  meen  or  mountain  flat  of  the  small  peak. 

Beannchar  or  beannchor  [banagher]  is  a  modifi- 
cation of  beann,  and  signifies  horns,  or  pointed 
hills  or  rocks,  and  sometimes  simply  peaked  hill ; 
it  is  a  word  of  frequent  topographical  use  in  dif- 
ferent parts  of  Ireland,  and  it  is  generally  anglicised 
banagher  or  bangor.  Banagher  in  King's  County 
(Beannchor,  Four  Mast.)  is  said  to  have  taken  its 
name  from  the  sharp  rocks  in  the  Shannon ;  and 
there  are  seven  townlands  in  different  counties 
bearing  the  same  name. 

Bangor  in  Down  is  written  Beannchar  by  various 
authorities,  and  Keating  and  others  account  for 
the  name  by  a  legend ;  but  the  circumstance 
that  there  are  so  many  Beannchars  in  Ireland 
renders  this  of  no  authority  ;  and  there  is  a  hill 
near  the  town,  from  which  it  is  more  likely  that 
the  place  received  its  name.  Coolbanagher  or 
Whitechurch,  a  church  giving  name  to  a  parish 
in  Queen's  County,  where  Aengus  the  Culdee  be- 
gan his  celebrated  Felire  (see  p.  158),  is  written  in 
Irish  authorities,  Cuil-beannchair,  the  angle  or 
corner  of  the  pinnacle.  "There  is  a  Lough 
Banagher  (the  lake  of  the  pinnacles)  in  Donegal ; 
Drumbanagher  in  Armagh ;  Movanagher  on  the 
Bann,  parish  of  Kilrea,  Deny  (Magh-bheannchair, 
the  plain  of  the  pinnacles)  ;  and  the  ancient 
church  of  Ross-bennchuir  (ross,  a  wood),  placed  by 
Archdall  in  the  county  of  Clare  "  (.fteeves,  Eccle- 
siastical Antiquities,  p.  199,  where  the  word  beann- 
char  is  exhaustively  discussed). 

Ard  is  sometimes  a  noun  meaning  a  height  or 

hill,  and  sometimes  an  adjective,  signifying  high; 

cognate  with  Lat.  ardum.     In  both  senses  it  enters 

extensively  into  Irish  nomenclature ;  it  forma  the 

VOL.  i.  26 

386  Physical  Features.  [PART  iv. 

beginning  of  about  650  townland  names ;  and  there 
are  at  least  as  many  more  that  contain  it  other- 
wise combined. 

There  is  a  little  town  in  "Waterford,  and  about 
twenty-six  townlands  in  different  counties,  called 
Ardmore,  great  height ;  but  only  two  bear  the 
correlative  name,  Ardbeg,  little  height.  Ardglass 
in  Down  is  called  Ard-glas  by  the  Four  Masters, 
i.  e.  green  height ;  which  is  also  a  usual  townland 
name ;  and  there  are  many  places  scattered  over  the 
country,  called  Ardkeen,  that  is,  Ard-caein,  beau- 
tiful height.  Arderin  in  the  Queen's  County  is 
the  highest  of  the  Slieve  Bloom  range ;  and  the 
inhabitants  of  the  great  central  plain  who  gave  it 
the  name,  signifying  the  height  of  Ireland,  unac- 
customed as  they  were  to  the  view  of  high  moun- 
tains, evidently  believed  it  to  be  one  of  the  principal 
elevations  in  the  country. 

When  ard  is  followed  by  tighe  [tee],  a  house, 
the  final  d  is  usually  omitted ;  as  in  Artif  errall 
in  Antrim,  Ard-tig "he-Fear ghaill,  the  height  of 
Farrell's  house ;  Artimacormick  near  Ballintoy, 
same  county,  the  height  of  Mac  Cormack's 
house,  &c. 

This  word  has  two  diminutives,  airdin  and  arddn 
[ardeen,  ardaun]  ;  the  former  is  not  much  in  use, 
but  it  gives  name  to  some  places  in  Cork  and 
Kerry,  called  Ardeen,  and  it  forms  a  part  of  a  few 
other  names.  The  latter,  under  the  different 
forms  Ardan,  Ardane,  and  Ardaun,  all  meaning 
little  height  or  hillock,  is  by  itself  the  name  of 
several  places  in  the  midland  counties;  and  it 
helps  to  form  many  others,  such  as  Ardanreagh  in 
Limerick,  grey  hillock ;  and  Killinardan  near 
Tallaght  in  Dublin,  the  church  or  wood  of  the  little 

Leath-v-vd  flahard],  which  means  literally  half 

CHAP,  i.]     Mountains,  HiUs,  and  Rocks  087 

height,  is  used  topographically  to  denote  a  gently 
sloping  eminence ;  and  the  anglicised  form  Lahard, 
and  the  diminutives  Lahardan,  Lahardane,  and 
Lahardaun,  are  the  names  of  many  places,  chiefly 
in  Connaught  and  Munster.  Derrylahard,  the 
oak-wood  of  the  gentle  hill,  occurs  near  Skull  in 
Cork ;  and  the  same  name,  in  the  shortened  form 
Derrylard,  is  found  in  the  parish  of  Tartaraghan, 
Armagh.  Aghalahard,  the  field  (achadh]  of  the 
gentle  hill. 

The  word  alt  primarily  denotes  a  height,  cognate 
with  Lat.  altus ;  it  occurs  in  Cormac's  Glossary, 
where  it  is  derived  "  ab  altitudine  :  "  in  its  present 
topographical  application  it  is  generally  under- 
stood to  mean  a  cliff,  or  the  side  of  a  glen.  It  is 
pretty  generally  spread  throughout  the  country, 
forming  the  first  syllable  of  about  100  townland 
names,  which  are  distributed  over  the  four  pro- 
vinces. Alt  stands  alone  as  the  name  of  some  places 
in  Mayo  and  Donegal ;  and  Alts  (heights  or  glen 
sides)  occurs  in  Monaghan.  Altachullion  in  Cavan 
is  the  cliff  of  the  holly  ;  in  Limerick  and  Queen's 
County  we  have  Altavilla  Alt-a'-bhile,  the  glen 
side  of  the  old  tree  ;  Altinure  in  Derry  and  Cavan, 
the  cliff  of  the  yew  :  Altnagapple,  height  of  the 

There  is  a  place  in  the  parish  of  Tulloghobegly, 
Donegal,  called  Altan,  little  cliff ;  and  the  plural 
Altans  occurs  in  Sligo.  Altanagh  in  Tyrone  signi- 
fies a  place  abounding  in  cliffs  and  glens.  In  the 
end  of  names,  this  word  is  sometimes  made  alia, 
and  sometimes  ilt,  representing  two  forms  of  the 
genitive,  alia  and  ailt,  as  we  see  in  Lissanalta  in 
Limerick,  the  fort  of  the  height ;  and  Tonanilt 
in  Cavan,  the  backside  of  the  cliff. 

The  primary  meaning  of  crunch  is  a  rick  OT 
stack,  such  as  a  stack  of  corn  or  hay  ;  but  in  an 

388  Physical  Features.  [PART  TV. 

extended  sense,  it  is  applied  to  hills,  especially 
to  those  presenting  a  round,  stacked,  or  piled  up 
appearance ;  Welsh  crug,  a  heap ;  Cornish  cruc. 
It  is  used  pretty  extensively  as  a  local  term, 
generally  in  the  forms  Croagh  or  Crogh ;  and 
the  diminutive  Cruachan  is  still  more  common, 
giving  names  to  numerous  mountains,  townlands, 
and  parishes,  called  Croaghan,  Croaghaun,  Croghan, 
and  Crohane,  all  originally  applied  to  a  round- 
shaped  hill.  Cruachdn  was  the  original  name  of 
the  village  of  Crookhaven  on  the  south  coast  of 
Cork ;  the  present  name  signifying  the  haven  of 
the  cruach  or  round-hill. 

Croghan  hill  in  King's  County,  was  anciently 
called  Bri-Eile,  the  hill  of  Eile,  daughter  of 
Eochy  Feileach,  and  sister  of  Maive,  queen  of 
Connaught  in  the  first  century  (see  p.  127,  supra] ; 
it  afterwards  received  the  name  of  Cruachan,  and 
in  the  annals  it  is  sometimes  called  Cruachan-Bri- 
Eile,  which  looks  tautological,  as  Cruachan  and 
Bri  both  signify  a  hill.  Croaghan  near  Killashan- 
dra  in  Cavan,  the  inauguration  place  of  the 
O'Rourkes,  is  often  mentioned  in  the  Irish  au- 
thorities by  two  names — CruacJian  O'Cuproin, 
O'Cupron's  round-hill,  and  Cruachan-Mic-Tighear- 
nain,  from  the  Mac  Tighearnans  or  Mac  Kiernans, 
the  ancient  possessors  of  the  barony  of  Tullyhunco, 
the  chief  of  whom  had  his  residence  there.  The 
word  is  somewhat  disguised  in  Ballycrogue,  the 
name  of  a  parish  in  Carlow,  the  same  as  Bally- 
croghan  near  Bangor  in  Down,  only  that  in  the 
latter  the  diminutive  is  used.  Kilcruaig,  a  town- 
land  near  Ballyorgan  in  the  south-east  of  Limerick, 
obviously  got  its  name,  which  means  the  church 
of  the  round-hill,  from  the  detached  mountain  now 
called  Carrigeenamronety,  on  whose  side  the  place 
in  question  lies. 

CHAP,  i.]     Mountains,  Hills,  and  Hocks.  389 

Tulach,  a  little  hill — a  hillock ;  often  written 
tealach  in  old  documents.  It  occurs  in  Cormac's 
Glossary,  where  it  is  given  as  the  equivalent  of 
bri.  It  is  anglicised  Tulla,  Tullow,  and  Tullagh, 
but  most  commonly  Tully  (see  p.  33).  Tullanavert 
near  Clogher  in  Tyrone  represents  Tulach-na- 
bhfeart,  the  hill  of  the  graves ;  Tullaghacullion 
near  Killybegs,  Tullaghcullion  near  Donegal,  and 
Tullycullion  in  Tyrone,  the  hill  of  the  holly.  The 
parish  of  Tully  near  Kingstown  in  Dublin  was 
anciently  called  Tulach-na-nespuc,  which  signifies 
the  hill  of  the  bishops  ;  and  according  to  the  Life 
of  St.  Brigid,  it  received  its  name  from  seven 
bishops  who  lived  there,  and  on  one  occasion 
visited  the  saint  at  Kildare  (O'Curry,  Lect.,  p. 
382).  Tullymongan,  the  name  of  two  townlands 
near  Cavan,  was  originally  applied  to  the  hill  over 
the  town,  now  called  Gallows  Hill ;  the  Four 
Masters  call  it  Tulach  Mbngain,  the  hill  of  Mongan, 
a  man's  name. 

The  parish  of  Kiltullagh  in  Roscommon  was  so 
called  from  an  old  church,  the  name  of  which 
perfectly  describes  its  situation — Cill-tulaigh,  the 
church  of  the  hill ;  and  the  parish  of  Kiltullagh  in 
Galway,  near  Athenry,  is  called  cill-tulach  (church 
of  the  little  hills)  in  "  Hy  Many."  In  the  Munster 
counties,  the  g  in  tulaigh,  is  pronounced  hard, 
giving  rise  to  a  new  form  Tullig,  which  is  found 
in  the  names  of  many  places,  the  greater  number 
being  in  Cork  and  Kerry. 

There  are  two  diminutive  forms  in  use,  tuldn 
and  tulachdn.  From  the  former  comes  Tullen  in 
Roscommon,  Tullin  near  Athlone,  and  Tullans 
near  Coleraine ;  but  the  other  is  more  common, 
and  gives  origin  to  Tullaghan,  Tullaghaun,  and 
Tullaghans  (little  hills),  found  in  several  counties 
as  the  names  of  townlands  and  villages.  The  wo^d 

390  Physical  Features.  LFART  1V« 

is  sometimes  spelled  in  Irish  tealach  [tallagh], 
which  orthography  is  often  adopted  by  the  Four 
Masters ;  this  form  appears  in  the  name  of  Tallow, 
a  town  in  Waterford,  which  is  called  in  Irish 
Tealach-an-iarainn  [Tallowanierin],  the  hill  of  the 
iron,  from  the  iron  mines  worked  there  by  the 
great  earl  of  Cork. 

Bri  [bree],  signifies  a  hill  or  rising- ground,  the 
same  as  the  Scotch  word  brae  ;  in  Cormac's  Glos- 
sary it  is  explained  by  tulach  ;  Cornish  and  Breton, 
brc ;  Gaulish,  brega,  briga.  The  word  occurs  fre- 
quently as  a  topographical  term  in  our  ancient 
writings,  of  which  Bri-Eile  (p.  388),  is  an  example. 
Brigown,  a  village  near  Mitchelstown  in  Cork, 
once  a  celebrated  ecclesiastical  establishment, 
where  are  still  to  be  seen  the  remains  of  a  very 
ancient  church,  is  called  in  Irish,  Bri-gobhunn 
(Book  of  Lismore  :  gobha,  a  smith),  the  hill  of  the 
smith.  In  our  present  names  this  word  does  not 
occur  very  often  ;  it  is  found  simply  in  the  form 
of  Bree  in  Donegal,  Monaghan,  and  Wexford ; 
while  in  Tyrone  it  takes  the  form  of  Brigh. 

Bray,  which  is  the  name  of  several  places  in 
Ireland,  is  another  form  of  the  same  word.  Bray 
in  Wicklow  is  called  Bree  in  old  church  records 
and  other  documents ;  and  it  evidently  received 
its  name  from  Bray  head,  which  rises  abruptly 
793  feet  over  the  sea.  In  the  Dinnsenchus  there 
is  a  legendary  account  of  the  origin  of  the  name 
of  this  place,  viz.,  that  it  was  so  called  from 
Brea,  son  of  Seanboth,  one  of  Parthalon's  fol- 
lowers, who  first  introduced  single  combat  into 
Ireland  (see  p.  161).  The  steep  promontory  on 
the  south-western  extremity  of  Valentia  island 
is  also  called  Bray  head.  At  the  head  of  Glencree 
in  Wicklow  is  a  small  mountain  lake,  well  known 
to  Dublin  excursionists,  called  Lough  Bray,  whose 

CHAP,  i.]      Mountains,  Hills,  and  Rocks.  391 

name  was,  no  doubt,  derived  from  the  rocky 
point — a  spur  of  Kippure  mountain — which  rises 
perpendicularly  over  its  gloomy  waters. 

Lagh  [law]  a  hill,  cognate  with  Ang.-Sax.  law, 
same  meaning.  It  is  not  given  in  the  diction- 
aries, but  it  undoubtedly  exists  in  the  Irish 
language,  and  has  given  names  to  a  considerable 
number  of  places  through  the  country,  of  which 
the  following  may  be  taken  as  examples : — 

Portlaw  on  the  Suir  in  Waterford  took  ita 
name  from  the  steep  hill  at  the  head  of  the  village 
— Portlagha,  the  bank  or  landing-place  of  the 
hill ;  there  are  some  townlands  in  Kilkenny  and 
the  Munster  counties  called  Ballinla  and  Ballin- 
law,  the  town  of  the  hill ;  Luggelaw  in  Wicklow, 
the  lug  or  hollow  of  the  hill,  the  name  of  the 
valley  in  which  is  situated  the  beautiful  Lough 
Tay ;  Clonderalaw  in  Cork  and  Clare,  the  meadow 
between  the  two  hills. 

O'Brien  explains  ceide  [keady]  "a  hillock,  a 
compact  kind  of  hill,  smooth  and  plain  at  the  top ; " 
and  this  is  the  sense  in  which  it  is  understood  at 
the  present  day,  wherever  it  is  understood  at  all 
The  Four  Masters  write  it  ceideach,  when  men- 
tioning Keadydrinagh  in  Sligo,  which  they  call 
Ceideach-droighneach,  the  flat- topped  hill  of  the 
black- thorns.  The  word  is  not  in  very  general 
use,  and  is  almost  confined  to  the  northern  and 
north-western  counties ;  but  in  these  it  gives 
name  to  a  considerable  number  of  places  now 
called  Keadew  and  Keady.  It  takes  the  forms  of 
Keadagh,  Cady,  and  Caddagh,  in  several  counties ; 
the  diminutive  Keadeen  is  the  name  of  a  high  hill 
east  of  Baltinglass  in  Wicklow,  and  another  modi- 
fication, Cadian,  occurs  in  Tyrone. 

Mullach,  in  its  primary  meaning,  signifies  the 
top  or  summit  of  anything — such  as  the  top  of  a 

392  Physical  Features.  [PART  iv. 

house.  Topographically  it  is  generally  used  to 
denote  smaller  eminences,  though  we  find  it  oc- 
casionally applied  to  hills  of  considerable  elevation ; 
and  as  a  root  word,  it  enters  very  extensively  into 
the  formation  of  names,  generally  in  the  forms 
Mulla,  Mullagh,  Mully,  and  Mul,  which  consti- 
tute of  themselves,  or  form  the  beginning  of, 
upwards  of  400  names. 

Mulla  is  well  known  as  the  name  given  by  the 
poet  Spenser  to  the  little  river  Awbeg,  which 
flows  by  Kilcolman  castle,  where  he  resided,  near 
Buttevant  in  Cork : — 

"  Strong  Allo  tombling  from  Slewlogher  steep, 
^hose  waves  I  whilom  ta 
"  Faerie  Queene,"  Book 

And  Mulla  mine  whose  waves  I  whilom  taught  to  weep. " 

IV.,  Canto  xi. 

In  another  place  he  says  that  Kilnamulla  (now 
Buttevant),  took  its  name  from  the  Mulla : — 

*•  It  giveth  name  unto  that  ancient  cittie, 
Which  Kilnemulla  clepped  is  of  old. " 

But  this  is  all  the  creation  of  the  poet's  fertile 
imagination ;  for  the  Awbeg  was  never  called 
Mulla  except  by  Spenser  himself,  and  Kilnamul- 
lagh,  the  native  name  of  Buttevant,  has  a  very 
different  origin  (see  Bregoge  in  2nd  Vol.). 

The  peasantry  of  the  locality  understand  Kilna- 
mullagh  to  mean  the  church  of  the  curse  [mallacht], 
in  connection  with  which  they  relate  a  strange 
legend ;  but  the  explanation  is  erroneous,  and  the 
legend  an  invention  of  later  times.  At  the  year 
1251,  the  Four  Masters,  in  recording  the  founda- 
tion of  the  monastery,  call  it  Cill-na-mullach, 
which  0 'Sullivan,  in  his  history  of  the  Irish 
Catholics,  translates  ecclesia  tumulorum,  the  church 
of  the  hillocks  or  summits,  and  the  name  admits 

CHAP,  i.]     Mountains,  Hills,  and  Rocks.  393 

of  no  other  interpretation.  The  present  name 
Buttevant  is  said  to  have  been  derived  from 
Boutez-en-avant,  a  French  phrase  meaning  "  Push 
forward !  "  the  motto  of  the  Barrymore  family. 

The  village  of  Mullagh  in  Cavan  got  its  name 
from  the  hill  near  it,  which  the  Four  Masters  call 
Mullach-Laeighill,  the  hill  of  Laeighett  or  Lyle,  a 
man's  name  formerly  common  in  Ireland.  Mul- 
laghattin  near  Carlingford,  the  hill  of  the  furze  ; 
Mullaghsillogagh  near  Enniskillen,  the  hill  of  the 
sallows ;  Mullaghmeen,  smooth  summit.  Mul, 
the  shortened  form,  appears  in  Mulboy  in  Tyrone, 
yellow  summit ;  and  in  Mulkeeragh  in  Derry,  the 
summit  of  the  sheep. 

Muttan,  little  summit,  is  a  diminutive  of  muttach, 
and  it  is  generally  applied  to  the  top  of  a  low, 
gently  sloping  hill.  In  the  forms  Mullan,  Mul- 
laun,  and  in  the  plural  Mullans  and  Mullauns,  it 
is  the  name  of  nearly  forty  townlands,  and  of 
course  helps  to  form  many  others.  Q-lassavullaun 
near  Tallaght  in  Dublin,  represents  G-laise-a'- 
mhullain,  the  streamlet  of  the  little  summit ;  and 
Mullanagore  in  Monaghan,  and  Mullanagower  in 
Wexford,  signify  the  little  eminence  of  the  goats. 
In  Carlow,  Wicklow,  and  Wexford,  this  word  is 
understood  to  mean  simply  a  green  field ;  but  it 
has  evidently  undergone  a  change  of  meaning, 
the  transition  being  sufficiently  easy  from  a  gentle 
green  hill  to  a  green  field.  Mulkaun  in  Leitrim, 
exhibits  another  diminutive,  namely,  muledn  or 
mullachdn  which  also  appears  in  Meenawullaghan 
in  the  parish  of  Inver,  Donegal,  the  meen  or 
mountain  flat  of  the  little  summit ;  and  in  Meena- 
mullaghan,  parish  of  Lower  Fahan,  same  county, 
Nm-na-muttachan,  the  mountain  flat  of  the  little 

lomaire  [ummera]  signifies  a  ridge  or  hill-back  ; 

394  Physical  Features.  [  PART  iv. 

as  a  local  term  it  is  found  in  each  of  the  four 
provinces,  being,  however,  more  common  in  Ulster 
and  Connaught  than  in  the  other  provinces  ;  but 
in  any  part  of  Ireland  it  does  not  enter  exten- 
sively into  names.  Its  most  common  modern 
forms  are  Ummera,  Ummery,  and  Umry,  which 
form  or  begin  the  names  of  more  than  twenty 

Ummeracam  in  Armagh,  and  Umrycam  in 
Donegal  and  Derry,  are  called  in  Irish  lomaire- 
cam,  crooked  ridge ;  Ummeraboy  in  Cork,  yellow 
ridge ;  Ummerafree  in  Monaghan,  the  ridge  of 
the  heath;  Killanummery,  a  townland  giving 
name  to  a  parish  in  Leitrim,  is  called  by  the 
Four  Masters  Cill-an-iomaire,  the  church  of  the 
ridge,  and  the  word  is  somewhat  altered  in  Clon- 
amery  in  Kilkenny,  the  meadow  of  the  ridge. 

The  primary  meaning  of  meall  [mal]  is  a  lump, 
mass,  or  heap  of  anything ;  and  it  is  applied 
locally  to  a  small  round  hillock.  It  does  not  occur 
very  often  except  in  Munster,  where  it  is  met 
with  pretty  extensively  ;  its  most  usual  anglicised 
form  is  maul,  which  begins  the  names  of  near 
sixty  townlands,  all  in  Cork  and  Kerry.  Take  for 
example,  Maulanimirish  and  Maulashangarry,  both 
near  Dunmanway,  the  first  meaning  the  hillock 
of  the  contention  (imreas),  and  the  second,  of  the 
old  garden  (sean,  old  ;  garrdha,  a  garden).  Mau- 
lagh  near  Killarney  signifies  a  place  abounding  in 

Millin  [milleen]  is  a  diminutive  of  this  word, 
usually  represented  in  the  present  names  by  Mil- 
leen, which  forms  the  whole  or  the  beginning  of 
fifteen  townland  names,  all  except  one  in  Cork ; 
Milleennahorna  has  the  same  meaning  as  Maulna- 
horna,  the  hillock  of  the  barley  (eorna}.  Near 
Rathcormack,  there  is  a  place  called  Maulane,  the 

CHAP,  i.]      Mountains,  Hills,  and  Rocks.  395 

only  example  I  find  of  the  diminutive  in  an.  In 
anglicised  names  it  is  often  difficult  to  distin- 
guish this  word  from  mael  and  its  modifications, 
as  both  often  assume  the  same  form. 

Mael  [mwail  or  moyle]  as  an  adjective  signifies 
bald,  bare,  or  hornless  ;  and  it  is  often  employed 
as  a  noun  to  denote  anything  having  these  shapes 
or  qualities.  It  is,  for  instance,  applied  to  a  cow 
without  horns,  which  in  almost  every  part  of 
Ireland  is  called  a  mael  or  mweelleen.  It  is  also 
used  synonymously  with  giolla,  to  denote  in  a  re- 
ligious sense,  a  person  having  the  head  shorn  or 
tonsured ;  it  was  often  prefixed  to  the  name  of  a 
saint,  and  the  whole  compound  used  to  denote  a 
person  devoted  to  such  a  saint ;  and  as  a  mark  of 
reverence  this  kind  of  name  was  often  given  to 
men  at  their  baptism,  which  originated  such  sur- 
names as  Mulholland,  Mulrony,  Molony,  Mulrenin, 
Malone,  &c. 

It  is  applied  to  a  church  or  building  of  any 
kind  that  is  either  unfinished  or  dilapidated — most 
commonly  the  latter ;  thus  Templemoyle,  the  bald 
or  dilapidated  church,  is  the  name  of  some  places 
in  Derry,  Galway,  and  Donegal;  there  are  five 
townlands  in  Antrim  and  one  in  Longford  called 
Kilinoyle  which  have  the  same  meaning ;  Kilmoyle 
near  Ballymoney  is  in  Latin  records  translated 
Eccksia  calva,  which  gives  the  exact  sense.  And 
Castlemoyle,  bald  castle,  occurs  in  Galway,  Wex- 
f ord,  and  Tipperary.  The  word  is  used  to  desig- 
nate a  moat  or  mound  flat  on  top,  or  dilapidated 
by  having  the  materials  carted  away ;  and  hence  we 
have  such  names  as  Rathmoyle,  Lismoyle,  and 

Mael  is  applied  to  hills  and  promontories,  and 
in  this  sense  it  is  very  often  employed  to  form 
local  names.  Moyle,  one  of  its  usual  forms,  and 
the  plural  Moyles,  gives  names  to  several  places 

396  Physical  Features.  [PART  iv. 

in  the  middle  and  northern  counties;  Knock- 
moyle,  a  usual  townland  name,  bald  hill.  In  the 
south  and  west  it  often  assumes  the  form  mweel, 
which  preserves  the  pronunciation  more  nearly 
than  moyle :  thus  Mweelahorna  near  Ardmore  in 
"Waterford,  the  bald  hill  of  the  barley;  and  in 
Fermanagh,  also,  this  form  is  found  in  Mweelbane, 
white  hill.  It  sometimes  takes  the  form  of  meel, 
as  in  Meelshane  in  Cork,  John's  bald  hill ;  Meel- 
garrow  in  Wexf  ord,  rough  hill  (garbh,  rough) ;  Meel- 
drum  near  Kilbeggan  in  "Westmeath,  bare  ridge. 

There  are  two  diminutives  in  pretty  common 
use,  maeldn  and  maeilin  [mweelaun,  mweeleen]  ; 
the  former  is  often  applied  to  round-backed  islands 
in  the  sea,  or  to  round  bare  rocks ;  and  we  find  ac- 
cordingly several  little  islands  off  the  south  and 
west  coast,  called  Moylaun,  Moylan,  and  Mwee- 
laun. The  same  word  is  seen  in  Meelon  near  Bandon, 
and  Milane,  near  Dunmanway,  both  in  Cork ;  and 
in  Mellon  near  where  the  Maigue  joins  the 
Shannon  in  Limerick.  The  second  diminutive  is 
more  frequent,  and  it  is  spelled  in  various  ways ; 
it  is  found  as  Moyleen  and  Mweeleen  in  Galway, 
Kerry,  and  Mayo;  Mweeling  near  Ardmore  in 
Waterford ;  and  Meeleen  in  the  parish  of  Kil- 
quane,  Cork. 

Meelaghans  near  Geashill  in  King's  County 
(little  bare  hills),  exhibits  another  diminutive, 
Maelachdn ;  and  we  have  still  another  in  Milligan 
in  Monaghan,  and  Milligans  in  Fermanagh,  little 
hills.  Mealough  is  the  name  of  a  townland  in 
the  parish  of  Drumbo,  Down,  meaning  either  a 
round  hill  or  a  place  abounding  in  hillocks.  In 
Scotland,  the  word  mael  is  often  used,  as  for  in- 
stance in  the  Mull  of  Galloway  and  the  Mull  of 
Cantire ;  in  both  instances  the  word  Mull  signi- 
fying a  bare  headland.  From  the  Mull  of  Can- 
tire,  the  sea  between  Ireland  and  Scotland  was 

CHAP,  i.]     Mountains,  Hills,  and  Rocks.  397 

anciently  called  the  "Sea-stream  of  Moyle;''  and 
Moore  has  adopted  the  last  name  in  his  charming 
song,  "  Silent,  O  Moyle,  be  the  roar  of  thy  water." 

Mael  combines  with  the  Irish  preposition  for, 
forming  the  compound  formael,  which  is  used  to 
signify  a  round-hill ;  and  which,  in  the  forms 
Formoyle,  Fermoyle,  and  Formil,  constitutes  the 
names  of  twenty- nine  townlands,  scattered  through 
the  four  provinces  ;  in  Meath  it  is  made  Formal, 
and  in  Galway  it  retains  the  more  Irish  form, 
Formweel.  This  name  occurs  twice  in  the  Four 
Masters;  first  at  A.D.  965,  where  a  battle  is  re- 
corded to  have  been  fought  at  Formaeil  of  Rathbeg, 
which  O'Donovan  identifies  with  Formil  in  the 
parish  of  Lower  Bodoney,  Tyrone  ;  and  secondly, 
at  1051,  where  mention  is  made  of  Slieve-Formoyle, 
which  was  the  ancient  name  of  Slieve-O'Flynn, 
west  of  Castlerea  in  Roscommon. 

The  word  cor,  as  a  topographical  term,  has  several 
meanings,  the  most  common  being  a  round-hill ; 
but  it  is  also  applied  to  a  round  pit  or  cup-like 
hollow,  to  a  turn  or  bend,  such  as  the  bend  of  a 
road,  &c. ;  and  as  an  adjective,  it  means  odd,  and 
also  round.  In  consequence  of  this  diversity,  it  is 
often  difficult  to  determine  its  exact  sense ;  and 
to  add  to  the  complexity,  the  word  corr,  a  crane, 
is  liable  to  be  confounded  with  it. 

This  word  is  used  very  extensively  in  local  no- 
menclature ;  and  in  its  various  senses  it  forms  the 
first  syllable  of  more  than  1,000  townland  names, 
in  the  greater  number  of  which  it  means  a  round 
hill.  Corbeagh  in  Longford  and  Cavan  is  in 
Irish,  Cor-beitheach,  the  round- hill  of  the  birch  ; 
Corkeeran  in  Monaghan,  of  the  keerans  or  rowan- 
trees  ;  Cornagee  and  Cornageeha,  the  hill  of  the 
wind  ;  Cornaveagh,  of  the  ravens  (fiacK).  The 
diminutives  Corrog  and  Corroge,  give  names  to 

398  Physical  Features.  [PART  iv. 

some  places  in  Down  and  Tipperary ;  and  we  find 
Correen  in  several  of  the  north-western  counties  ; 
Correenfeeradda  near  Knockainy  in  Limerick,  is 
called  in  Irish,  Coirm-feir-ffiada,  the  round-hill  of 
the  long  grass. 

Cruit  means  a  hump  on  the  back  ;  from  this  it 
is  applied  to  round  humpy -looking  hills  ;  and  it  is 
commonly  represented  by  Crott,  Crut,  or  Grit, 
which  are  the  names  of  places  in  Fermanagh, 
Longford,  Mayo,  and  Kilkenny.  There  is  an 
island  called  Cruit  off  the  coast  of  Donegal,  i.  e. 
humpy-backed  island ;  and  two  townlands  in 
King's  County  and  Roscommon  are  called  by  the 
same  name.  The  plural  Crotta,  or  Crutta,  humps, 
and  the  English  plural  Crottees,  give  names  to 
Borne  places  in  Kerry,  Tipperary,  and  Cork ;  and 
Crottan,  little  hump,  occurs  in  Fermanagh. 

The  word  is  variously  combined  to  form  other 
names :  such  as  Kilcruit  in  Carlow,  the  wood  of 
the  hump-backed  hill ;  Loughcrot  near  Dromda- 
league  in  Cork,  the  lake  of  the  hillocks ;  Druma- 
cruttan  in  Monaghan,  and  Drumacrittin  in 
Fermanagh,  the  ridge  of  the  little  hump  ;  Barna- 
grotty  in  King's  County,  Barr-na-gcrotta,  the 
hill-top  of  the  hummocks. 

Cnap  [knap,  c  pronounced  as  in  cnoc,  p.  382]  is 
a  button,  a  knob,  a  lump  of  anything,  a  knot  in 
timber,  &c. ;  and  it  is  cognate  with  Ang-Sax.  cnaep, 
Ger.  knopf,  Eng.  knob.  In  a  secondary  sense  it 
is  applied  to  small  round  hillocks,  and  gives 
names  to  a  considerable  number  of  places.  In 
anglicised  names  it  takes  various  forms,  such  as 
knap,  nap,  &c.  ;  and  in  the  northern  counties,  it 
becomes  crap  and  crup,  just  as  knock  becomes  crock 
(see  p.  51).  The  diminutives  in  6g  and  an  occur 
of  tener  than  the  original ;  Knoppoge,  little  knob 
or  hill,  is  the  name  of  thirteen  townlands  in  Cork, 

CHAP,  i.]     Mountains,  Hills,  and  Rocks.  399 

Kerry,  and  Clare;  and  in  the  slightly  different 
form  Knappoge,  it  occurs  twice  in  Longford,  and 
once  in  Clare. 

There  are  many  places  in  the  northern  and 
north-western  counties,  called  Knappagh,  which 
represents  the  Irish  cnapach,  hilly  land — a  place 
full  of  knobs  or  hillocks ;  Nappagh  near  Ardagh 
in  Longford,  is  the  same  name,  but  it  has  lost  the 
k ;  and  the  same  thing  has  happened  in  Nappan 
in  Antrim,  which  is  the  diminutive  Cnapan,  a  little 
hillock ;  in  this  last  place  is  an  old  burial-ground 
called  Killycrappin  (cill-a' -cnapain :  see  Reeves, 
Eccl.  Ant.,  p.  87),  which  preserves  the  name  in 
another  form.  In  the  following  names  the  n  is 
changed  to  r : — Crappagh  in  Monaghan  and 
Gralway,  which  is  the  same  name  as  Knappagh ; 
Crippaun  in  Kildare,  the  same  as  Nappan  in 
Antrim;  Carrickcroppan  in  Armagh,  Carraig- 
cnapain,  the  rock  of  the  little  hillock  ;  and  Lisna- 
croppan  in  Down,  the  fort  of  the  hillock. 

Tor  signifies  a  tower,  and  corresponds  to  Latin 
turris.  Although  the  word  properly  means  an 
artificial  tower,  yet  in  many  parts  of  Ireland,  as 
for  instance  in  Donegal,  it  is  applied  to  a  tall  rock 
resembling  a  tower,  without  any  reference  to  an 
artificial  structure.  It  is  pretty  common  as  form- 
ing part  of  names,  and  its  derivatives  occur 
oftener  than  the  original.  Toralt  in  Fermanagh, 
signifies  the  tower  of  the  alt  or  cliff;  Tormore, 
great  tower,  is  the  name  of  several  islands,  of  one 
for  instance  off  the  coast  of  Donegal ;  Tornaroy 
in  Antrim  is  the  king's  tower  ;  and  in  the  parish 
of  Culfeightrin,  same  county,  there  are  five  town- 
lands  whose  names  begin  with  Tor.  In  some  few 
cases,  especially  in  the  central  counties,  the 
syllable  tor  may  have  been  corrupted  from  tuar, 
a  bleach -green ;  but  the  physical  aspect  of  the 

400  Physical  Features.  [PA in-  iv. 

place  will  generally  determine  which  is  the  cor- 
rect  root. 

Tory  Island,  off  the  coast  of  Donegal,  is  known 
in  ancient  writings  by  two  distinct  names,  Toirinis 
and  Torach,  quite  different  in  meaning,  but  both 
derived  from  tor.  This  island  is  mentioned  in 
our  bardic  histories  as  the  stronghold  of  the 
Fomorian  pirates  (see  p.  162),  and  called  in  these 
documents  Toir-inis,  the  island  of  the  tower ;  and 
according  to  all  our  traditional  accounts,  it  re- 
ceived this  name  from  Tor-Conaing  or  Conang's 
tower,  a  fortress  famous  in  Irish  legend,  and 
called  after  Conang,  a  Fomorian  chief. 

In  many  other  ancient  authorities,  such  as  the 
Life  of  St.  Columbkille,  "The Wars  of  GG-.,"  &c., 
it  is  called  Torach ;  and  the  present  name  Tory, 
is  derived  from  an  oblique  case  of  this  form 
(Toraigh,  pron.  Torry :  see  p.  33,  supra}.  The 
island  abounds  in  lofty  isolated  rocks  which  are 
called  tors  or  towers ;  and  the  name  Torach  means 
simply  towery — abounding  in  tors  or  tower-like 
rocks.  The  intelligent  Irish- speaking  natives  of 
the  Donegal  coast  give  it  this  interpretation ;  and 
no  one  can  look  at  the  island  from  the  mainland, 
without  admitting  that  the  name  is  admirably 
descriptive  of  its  appearance. 

Tortdn,  a  diminutive  of  tor,  forms  a  part  of 
several  modern  names,  and  it  is  applied  to  a  small 
knoll  or  tummock,  or  a  high  turf -bank.  It  gives 
name  to  Turtane  in  Carlow,  to  Toortane  in  Queen's 
County,  Waterf ord,  and  "Kilkenny,  and  to  Tartan 
in  Roscommon. 

Fornocht  is  a  bare,  naked,  or  exposed  hill.  It 
gives  name  to  a  parish  in  Kildare,  now  called 
Forenaghts,  in  which  the  plural  form  has  pre- 
vailed, very  probably  in  consequence  of  the 
subdivision  of  the  original  townland  into  two 

CHAP,  i.]      Mountains,  Hills,  and  Rocks.  401 

parts.  There  are  also  several  townlands  called 
Fornaght  in  Cork  and  Waterf  ord ;  and  Farnaght, 
another  modern  form,  is  the  name  of  some  places 
in  Fermanagh  and  the  Connaught  counties. 

Cabhdn  [cavan]  means  a  hollow  or  cavity,  a 
hollow  place,  a  hollow  field  ;  and  this  is  undoubt- 
edly its  primary  meaning,  for  it  is  evidently 
cognate  with  Lat.  cavea,  Fr.  caban,  Welsh  cabane, 
and  Eng.  cabin.  Yet  in  some  parts  of  Ulster  it  is 
understood  to  mean  the  very  reverse,  viz.,  a  round 
dry  hill ;  and  this  is  the  meaning  given  to  it  by 
O'Donnell  in  his  Life  of  St.  Columba,  who  trans- 
lates it  collis  (Eeeves,  Colt.  Vis.  133).  This 
curious  discrepancy  is  probably  owing  to  a  gradual 
change  of  meaning,  similar  to  the  change  in  the 
words  lug,  mullan,  &c.  Which  of  the  two  mean- 
ings it  bears  in  each  particular  case,  depends  of 
course  on  the  physical  confirmation  of  the  place. 
In  its  topographical  application  this  word  is  con- 
fined to  the  northern  half  of  Ireland,  and  is  more 
frequent  in  the  Ulster  counties  than  elsewhere ; 
its  universal  anglicised  form  is  cavan. 

The  town  of  Cavan  is  well  described  by  ita 
name,  for  it  stands  in  a  remarkable  hollow; 
Racavan,  the  name  of  a  parish  in  Antrim,  is  Rath- 
cabhain,  the  fort  of  the  hollow.  There  are  more 
than  twenty  townlands  called  Cavan,  and  the 
word  begins  the  names  of  about  seventy  others. 
In  the  counties  of  Tyrone,  Donegal,  and  Armagh, 
there  are  several  places  called  Cavanacaw,  which 
represents  the  Irish  Cabhan-a'-chdtha,  the  round- 
hill  of  the  chaff,  from  the  custom  of  winnowing 
corn  on  the  top  ;  Cavanaleck  near  Enniskillen, 
the  hill  of  the  flagstone  or  stony  surface.  Tht 
word  cabhanach  is  an  adjective  formation  from 
cabhan,  and  means  a  place  abounding  in  round- 
hills  ;  in  the  modern  form  Cavanagh  it  is  found  in 
VOL.  i.  27 

402  Physical  Features.  |_PAKT  iv. 

Cavan  and  Fermanagh ;  and  in  Monaghan,  the 
same  word  occurs  under  the  form  Cavany. 

Eiscir  [esker]  means  a  ridge  of  high  land,  but 
it  is  generally  applied  to  a  sandy  ridge,  or  a  line 
of  low  sand-hills.  It  enters  pretty  extensively 
into  local  names,  but  it  is  more  frequently  met 
with  across  the  -middle  of  Ireland  than  in  either 
the  north  or  south.  It  usually  takes  the  form  of 
Esker,  which  by  itself  is  the  name  of  more  than 
thirty  townlands,  and  combines  to  form  the  names 
of  many  others ;  the  word  is  somewhat  altered  in 
Garrisker,  the  name  of  a  place  in  Kildare,  signi- 
fying short  sand-ridge. 

The  most  celebrated  esker  in  Ireland  is  Esker- 
Riada,  a  line  of  gravel-hills  extending  with  little 
interruption  across  Ireland,  from  Dublin  to  Clarin- 
Bridge  in  Galway,  which  was  fixed  upon  as  the 
boundary  between  the  north  and  south  halves  of 
Ireland,  when  the  country  was  divided,  in  the 
second  century,  between  Owen  More  and  Conn  of 
the  Hundred  Battles  (see  p.  134). 

As  a  termination,  this  word  assumes  other 
forms,  all  derived  from  the  genitive  eiscreach 
[eskera].  Clashaniskera  in  Tipperary  is  called  in 
Irish  Clais-an-eiscreach,  the  trench  or  pit  of  the 
sand-hill.  Ahascragh  in  Galway  signifies  the 
ford  of  the  esker ;  but  its  full  name  as  given  by 
the  Four  Masters  is  Ath-eascrach  Cuain  [Ahascra 
Cuan],  the  ford  of  St.  Cuan's  sand-hill ;  and  they 
still  retain  the  memory  of  St.  Cuan,  the  patron, 
who  is  commemorated  in  O'Clery's  Calendar  at  the 
15th  of  October;  Tiranascragh,  the  name  of  a 
townland  and  parish  in  Galway,  the  land  of  the 
esker.  Eskeragh  and  Eskragh  are  the  names  of 
several  townlands  in  the  Ulster  and  Connaught 
counties,  the  Irish  Eiscreach  signifying  a  place  full 
of  eskers  or  sand-hills. 

CHAT,  i.]      Mountains,  Hills,  and  Rocks.  403 

Tiompan   is   generally  understood,    when  used 
topographically,  to  mean  a  small  abrupt  hill,   and 
sometimes  a  standing  stone  ;  it  occurs  as  a  portion 
of  a  few  townland  names,  and  it  does  not  appear 
to  be  confined  to  any  particular  part  of  the  country. 
It  is  pronounced  Timpan  in  the  north,  and  Tim- 
paun  in  the  south  and  west,   and  modernised  ac- 
cordingly ;  the  former  being  the  name  of  a  place 
in  the  parish  of  Layd,  Antrim,   and  the  latter  of 
another    in    Roscommon.     In    the    townland  of 
Heanadimpaun,    parish  of  Seskinan,    Waterford, 
there  is  an   ancient   monument   consisting   of   a 
number  of   pillar-stones,   which  has  given  name 
to  the  townland — Reidh-na-dtiompan,  the  rea  or 
mountain-flat  of  the  standing  stones.     The  word 
is   slightly   varied   in   Tempanroe    (roe,   red)    in 
Tyrone ;  and  Timpany  in  the  same  county  is  from 
Tiompanach,  a  place  full  of  timpans  or  hillocks. 
Craigatempin  near   Ballymoney,    Antrim,    is  the 
rock  of  the  hillock  ;    and  Curraghnadimpaun  in 
Kilkenny,  the  curragh  or  marsh  of  the  little  hills. 
The  word  learg  [larg]  signifies  the  side  or  slope 
of  a  hill ;  it  is  used  in  local  names,  but  not  so  often 
as  leargaidh  [largy],  a  derivative  from  it,  with  the 
same  meaning.   Largy,  the  most  usual  modernised 
form,  is  found  only  in  the  northern  half  of  Ireland, 
and  is  almost  confined  to  Ulster ;  it  gives  names 
to   many  townlands,  both   by  itself  and  in  com- 
bination.    Largysillagh  and  Largynagreana   are 
the  names  of  two  places  near  Killybegs  in  Donegal, 
the  former  signifying  the  hill- side  of  the  sallows, 
and  the  latter,  sunny  hill- slope,  from  its  southern 
aspect.    The  diminutive  Largan,  meaning  still  the 
same  thing,  is  also  of  very  common  occurrence  as 
a   townland  name,  both  singly  and  compounded 
with  other  words  ;  Larganreagh  in  Donegal,  grey 

404  Physical  Features.  [PART  iv. 

Leitir  [letter].  According  to  Peter  O'Connell, 
this  word  means  the  side  of  a  hill,  a  steep  ascent 
or  descent,  a  cliff;  and  O'Donovan  translates  it 
"  hill-side,"  "  wet  or  spewy  hill-side,"  "  hill-side 
with  the  tricklings  of  water,"  &c.  It  is  still  under- 
stood in  this  sens-s  in  the  west  of  Connaught ;  and 
that  this  is  its  real  meaning  is  further  shown  by 
the  Welsh  llethr,  which  signifies  a  slope.  In 
Cormac's  Glossary  it  is  thus  explained  : — "  Leitir, 
i.  e.  leth  tirim  agus  leth  flinch ;  "  "  leitir,  i.  e.  half 
dry  and  half  wet ; "  from  which  it  appears  that 
Cormac  considered  it  derived  from  leth-tirim,  half- 
dry.  This  corresponds,  so  far  as  it  goes,  with 
present  use. 

This  word  is  often  found  in  ancient  authorities, 
as  forming  the  names  of  places.  At  1584,  the 
Four  Masters  mention  an  island  called  Leitir- 
Meallain  Meallan's  letter  or  hill-side,  which  lies  off 
the  Connemara  coast,  and  is  still  called  Letter- 
mullen.  Latteragh  in  Tipperary  is  very  often 
mentioned  in  the  annals  and  Calendars,  and  always 
called  Letrecha-Odhrain  (Latraha-Oran :  O'Cler. 
Cal.),  Odhran's  wet  hill-slopes.  St.  Odhran  [Oran], 
the  patron,  who  is  commemorated  in  the  Calendar 
at  the  26th  of  November,  died,  according  to  the 
Four  Masters,  in  the  year  548.  Other  modifi- 
cations of  the  plural  (leatracha,  pron.  latraha)  are 
seen  in  Lettera  and  Letteragh,  the  names  of  places 
in  various  counties ;  Lattery  in  Armagh ;  and 
Lettery  in  Gal  way  and  Tyrone  ;  all  meaning  "  wet 
hill-slopes."  Lettreen,  little  letter,  occurs  in  Ros- 
common ;  and  another  diminutive,  Letteran,  in 

A  considerable  number  of  places  derive  their 
names  from  this  word,  especially  in  the  western 
half  of  Ireland,  where  it  prevails  much  more  than 
elsewhere ;  I  have  not  found  it  at  all  towards  the 

CHAP.  i.J     Mountains,  Sills,  and  Hocks  405 

eastern  coast.  Its  most  usual  form  is  Letter,  which 
is  by  itself  the  name  of  about  twenty-six  town- 
lands,  and  forms  the  beginning  of  about  120 
others.  Letterbrick  in  Donegal  and  Mayo  is 
Leitir-bruic,  the  hill-side  of  the  badger  ;  Letter- 
brock,  of  the  badgers  ;  Lettershendony  in  Deny, 
the  old  man's  hill-side ;  Letterkeen  in  Fermanagh 
and  Mayo,  beautiful  letter ;  Letterlicky  in  Cork 
the  hill-side  of  the  flag-stone  or  flag-surfaced  land  ; 
Lettergeeragh  in  Longford,  of  the  sheep;  and 
Lettermacaward  in  Donegal,  the  hill- slope  of  Mac 
Ward  or  the  son  of  the  bard. 

Rinn  means  the  point  of  anything,  such  as  the 
point  of  a  spear,  &c.  ;  in  its  local  application,  it 
denotes  a  point  of  land,  a  promontory,  or  small 
peninsula.  O'Brien  says  in  his  dictionary  : — "  It 
would  take  up  more  than  a  whole  sheet  to  mention 
all  the  neck-lands  of  Ireland,  whose  names  begin 
with  this  word  Rinn."  It  is  found  pretty  ex- 
tensively in  names  in  the  forms  Rin,  Rinn,  Reen, 
Rine,  and  Ring ;  and  these  constitute  or  begin 
about  170  townland  names. 

Names  containing  this  word  are  often  found  in 
Irish  authorities.  In  the  county  Roscommon,  on 
the  western  shore  of  Lough  Ree,  is  a  small  penin- 
sula about  a  mile  in  length,  now  called  St.  John's 
or  Randown,  containing  the  ruins  of  a  celebrated 
castle ;  there  must  have  been  originally  a  dun  on 
the  point,  for  the  ancient  name  as  given  in  the 
annals  is  Rinnduin,  the  peninsula  of  the  dun  or 
fortress.  The  ancient  name  of  Island  Magee,  a 
peninsula  near  Larne,  was  Rinn-Seimhne  [Rin- 
Sevne],  from  the  territory  in  which  it  was  situated, 
which  was  called  Seimhne;  in  the  taxation  of 
1306  it  is  called  by  its  old  name,  in  the  anglicised 
form  Ransevyn.  Ifc  received  its  present  name  from 
its  ancient  proprietors,  the  Mac  Aedhas  or  Magees, 

406  Physical  Feature.  [PART  iv. 

not  one  of  whose  descendants  is  now  living  there. 
(See  Reeves,  Eccl.  Ant.,  pp.  58,  270). 

In  the  parish  of  Kilcomy,  Clare,  is  a  point  of 
land  jutting  into  the  Shannon,  called  Rineanna, 
which  the  Four  Masters  call  Rinn-eanaigh,  the 
point  of  the  marsh  ;  there  is  an  island  in  Lough 
Ree  called  Rinanny,  and  a  townland  in  Mayo, 
called  Rinanagh,  both  of  which  are  different  forms 
of  the  same  name.  Ringcurran  is  a  peninsula 
forming  a  modern  parish  near  Kinsale ;  it  is  a 
place  very  often  mentioned  in  the  annals,  and  its 
Irish  name  is  Rinn-chorrain,  which  Philip  O'Sulli- 
van  Bear  correctly  translates,  cuspis  falcis,  the 
point  of  the  reaping-hook,  so  called  from  its  shape. 
It  is  curious  that  the  same  sickle  shape  has  given 
the  name  of  Curran  to  a  little  peninsula  near 
Larne.  On  a  point  of  land  near  Kinsale,  are  the 
ruins  of  Ringrone  castle,  the  old  seat  of  the 
De  Courcys ;  the  name,  which  properly  belongs 
to  the  little  peninsula  on  which  the  castle  stands, 
is  written  in  the  annals  of  Innisfallen,  Rinn-roin, 
the  point  of  the  seal.  The  little  promontory  be- 
tween the  mouths  of  the  rivers  Ouvane  and  Coom- 
hola  near  Bantry,  is  called  Reenadisert,  the  point 
of  the  wilderness  or  hermitage,  a  name  which  is 
now  applied  to  a  ruined  castle,  a  stronghold  of  the 
O'Sullivans.  The  next  peninsula,  lying  a  mile 
southward,  is  called  Reenydonagan,  O'Donagan's 

Ring  stands  alone  as  the  name  of  many  places 
in  different  counties,  in  all  cases  meaning  a  point 
of  land ;  Ringaskiddy  near  Spike  Island  in  Cork, 
is  Skiddy's  point.  I  think  it  very  probable  that 
the  point  of  land  between  the  mouth  of  the  river 
Dodder  and  the  sea,  gave  name  to  Ringsend  near 
Dublin,  the  second  syllable  being  English : — 
Ringsend,  i.  e.  "the  end  of  the  Rinn  or  point.  There 

CHAP.  T.]     Mountains,  Hills,  and  Hocks.  407 

is  a  parish  forming  a  peninsula  near  Dungarvan 
in  Waterford,  called  Bingagonagh  in  Irish,  Rinn- 
0-g Guana,  the  point  of  the  O'Cooneys. 

Ringville  in  Waterford,  though  it  looks  English, 
is  an  Irish  name,  Rinn-bhile,  the  point  of  the  bile 
or  ancient  tree  ;  this  is  also  the  name  of  two  town- 
lands  in  Cork  and  Kilkenny;  and  Ringvilla  in 
Fermanagh,  is  still  the  same.  There  is  a  little 
peninsula  in  Galway,  opposite  Inishbofin  island, 
called  Rinville,  and  another  of  the  same  name, 
with  a  village  on  it,  projecting  into  Galway  bay, 
east  of  Galway  ;  both  are  written  in  our  authori- 
ties, Rinn-Mhil,  the  point  of  Mil ;  and  according 
to  Mac  Firbis,  they  were  so  called  from  Mil,  an 
old  Firbolg  chief.  ''  Ringhaddy  is  a  part  of 
Killinchy  parish  in  Down,  lying  in  Strangford 
Lough.  It  was  originally  an  island ;  but  having 
been  from  time  immemorial  united  to  the  mainland 
by  a  causeway,  it  represents  on  the  map  the  ap- 
pearance of  an  elongated  neck  of  land,  running 
northwards  into  the  Lough.  Hence,  probably, 
the  name  Rinn-fhada,  the  long  point."  (Reeves, 
Eccl.  Ant.  p.  9).  In  the  same  county  there  is  a 
townland  called  Ringfad,  which  is  another  modi- 
fication of  the  same  name. 

Reen  is  another  form  of  this  word,  which  is 
confined  to  Cork,  Kerry,  and  Limerick,  but  in  these 
counties  it  occurs  very  often,  especially  on  the 
coasts.  Rinn  and  Rin  are  more  common  in  the 
western  and  north-western  counties  than  else- 
where ;  as  in  Rinrainy  island  near  Dunglow  in 
Donegal,  the  point  of  the  ferns.  In  Clare  the 
word  is  pronounced  Rine,  and  anglicised  accord- 
ingly ;  Rinecaha  in  the  parish  of  Kilkeedy,  sig- 
nifies the  point  of  the  chaff  or  winnowing.  The 
diminutive  Rinneen,  little  point,  is  the  name  of 
several  tow^lands  in  Galway,  Clare,  and  Kerry. 

408  Physical  Features.  [PART  TV. 

Stuaic  [stook]  is  applied  to  a  pointed  pinnacle, 
or  a  projecting  point  of  rock.  Although  the  word 
is  often  used  to  designate  projecting  rocky  points, 
especially  on  parts  of  the  coast  of  Donegal,  it  has 
not  given  names  to  many  townlands.  Its  usual 
English  form  is  stook,  which,  in  Ireland  at  least, 
has  taken  its  place  as  an  English  word,  for  the 
expression,  "  a  stook  of  corn  "  is  used  all  over  the 
country,  meaning  the  same  as  the  English  word 
shock.  Stook  is  the  name  of  a  place  in  Tipperary ; 
but  the  two  diminutives,  Stookan  and  Stookeen, 
occur  more  frequently  than  the  original. 

Visitors  to  the  Giant's  Causeway  will  remember 
the  two  remarkable  lofty  rocks  called  the  Stook- 
ans — little  stooks  or  rock  pinnacles — standing  in 
the  path  leading  to  the  causeway,  which  afford  a 
very  characteristic  example  of  the  application  of 
this  term.  We  find  Stookeens,  the  same  word,  in 
Limerick,  and  the  singular,  Stookeen,  occurs  in 
Cork.  Near  Loughrea  in  Galway,  is  a  townland 
called  Cloghastookeen,  the  stone  fortress  of  the 
little  pinnacle,  which  received  its  name  from  a 
castle  of  the  Burkes,  the  ruins  of  which  still 
remain  ;  and  on  the  coast  of  Antrim,  beside  Garron 
Point  is  a  tall  pillar  of  rock  called  Cloghastucan, 
clogh  here  meaning  the  stone  itself — the  stone  of 
the  pinnacle  or  pinnacle  rock.  Baurstookeen  in 
Tipperary,  signifies  the  summit  of  the  pinnacle. 

The  words  aitt  &nd.faill  [oil,  foil],  mean  a  rock, 
a  cliff,  or  a  precipice;  both  words  are  radically  the 
same,  the  latter  being  derived  from  the  former  by 
prefixing  /  (see  p.  27).  I  have  already  observed 
that  this  practice  of  prefixing  /  is  chiefly  found 
in  the  south,  and  accordingly  it  is  only  in  this 
part  of  Ireland  that  names  occur  derived  from/as'//. 

Faitt  is  generally  made  foil  and  foyle  in  the 
present  names,  and  there  are  great  numbers  of 

OHAP.  i.]     Mountains,  Hills,  and  Rocks.  409 

cliffs  round  the  Minister  coasts,  especially  on 
those  of  Cork  and  Kerry,  whose  names  begin 
with  these  syllables ;  they  also  begin  the  names 
of  about  twenty-five  townlands,  inland  as  well 
as  on  the  coast.  Foilycleara  in  Limerick  and 
Tipperary,  signifies  O'Clery's  cliff ;  Foilnaman 
in  the  latter  county  Faill-na-mban,  the  cliff  of  the 
women.  The  diminutive  is  seen  in  Falleenadatha 
in  the  parish  of  Doon,  Limerick,  Faillin-a'-deata, 
the  little  cliff  of  the  smoke.  When/oy/e  comes  in 
as  a  termination,  it  is  commonly  derived,  however, 
not  fromfaiZZ,  but  from  poll,  a  hole  ;  for  instance 
Ballyfoyle  and  Ballyfoile,  the  names  of  several 
townlands,  represent  the  Irish  Baik-phoill,  the 
town  of  the  hole. 

While  faill  is  confined  to  the  south,  the  other 
form,  aill,  is  found  all  over  Ireland,  under  a  variety 
of  modern  forms.  Ayle  and  Aille  are  the  names 
of  a  number  of  places  in  Munster  and  Connaught ; 
Allagower  near  Tallaght,  Dublin,  is  the  cliff  of  the 
goat.  Lisnahall  in  Tyrone,  signifies  the  fort  of 
the  cliff ;  and  Aillatouk  the  cliff  of  the  hawk 
(aill-a' -tseabhaic}.  The  diminutive  Alleen  is  found 
in  Tipperary  and  Galway ;  in  the  former  county 
there  are  four  townlands,  two  of  them  called 
Alleen  Hogan,  and  two  Alleen  Byan,  Hogan's 
and  Ryan's  little  cliff. 

Carraig  or  carraic  [carrig,  carrick],  signifies  a 
rock  ;  it  is  usually  applied  to  a  large  natural  rock, 
not  lying  flat  on  the  surface  of  the  ground  like 
leac,  but  more  or  less  elevated.  There  are  two 
other  forms  of  this  word,  craig  and  creag,  which, 
though  not  so  common  as  carraig,  are  yet  found  in 
considerable  numbers  of  names,  and  are  used  in 
Irish  documents  of  authority.  Carraig  corresponds 
with  Sansc.  karkara,  a  stone ;  Armoric,  karrek, 
and  Welsh,  careg  or  craig,  a  rock.. 

410  Physical  Features.  [PART  iv 

Carrick  and  Carrig  are  the  names  of  nearly 
seventy  townlands,  villages,  and  towns,  and  form 
the  beginning  of  about  550  others  ;  craig  and  creag 
are  represented  by  the  various  forms,  Crag,  Craig, 
Creg,  &c.,  and  these  constitute  or  begin  about  250 
names ;  they  mean  primarily  a  rock,  but  they  are 
sometimes  applied  to  rocky  land. 

Carrigafoyle,  an  island  in  the  Shannon,  near 
Ballylongford,  Kerry,  with  the  remains  of  Carriga- 
foyle castle  near  the  shore,  the  chief  seat  of  the 
O'  Conors  Kerry,  is  called  in  the  annals  Carraig- 
an-phoill,  the  rock  of  the  hole ;  and  it  took  its 
name  from  a  deep  hole  in  the  river  immediately 
under  the  castle.  Ballynagarrick  in  Down  repre- 
sents the  Irish  £aile-na-gcarraig,  the  town  of  the 
rocks  ;  Carrigallen  in  Leitrim  was  so  called  from 
the  rock  on  which  the  original  church  was  built, 
the  Irish  name  of  which  was  Carraig-aluinn,  beauti- 
ful rock.  In  Inishargy  in  Down,  the  initial  c  has 
dropped  out  by  aspiration ;  in  the  Taxation  of 
1306  it  is  called  Inyscargi,  which  well  represents 
Inis-carraige,  the  island  of  the  rock ;  and  the 
rising  ground  on  which  the  old  church  stands  was 
formerly,  as  the  name  indicates,  an  island  sur- 
rounded by  marshes,  which  have  been  converted 
into  cultivated  fields  (see  Reeves,  Eccl.  Ant., 
p.  19). 

The  form  craig  occurs  more  than  once  in  the 
Four  Masters  :  for  instance,  they  mention  a  place 
called  Craig- Cor crain,  Corcran's  rock;  and  this 
Aame  in  the  corrupted  form  of  Cahercorcaun,  is 
still  applied  to  a  townland  in  the  parish  of  Rath, 
Clare ;  they  also  mention  Craig-ui-  Chiardubhain, 
O'Kirwan's  rock,  now  Craggykerrivan  in  the 
parish  of  Clondagad,  same  county.  Craigavad  on 
Belfast  Lough  was  so  called  probably  from  a  rock, 
on  the  shore,  to  which  a  Jboat  used  to  be  moored ; 

CHAP,  i.]     Mountains,  Hills,  and- Rocks.  411 

for  its  Irish,  name  is  Craig-al-bhaid,  the  rock  of 
the  boat. 

The  form  Carrick  is  pretty  equally  distributed 
over  Ireland  ;  Carrig  is  much  more  common  in  the 
south  than  elsewhere ;  Gregg  and  Creg  are  found 
oftener  in  the  north  and  west  than  in  the  south 
and  east ;  and  with  three  or  four  exceptions,  Craig 
is  confined  to  Ulster.  The  diminutives  Carrigeen, 
Carrigane,  and  Carrigaun,  prevail  in  the  southern 
half  of  Ireland ;  and  in  the  northern,  Carrigan, 
Cargan,  and  Cargin,  all  signifying  little  rock,  or 
land  with  a  rocky  surface  ;  and  with  their  plurals, 
they  give  names  to  numerous  townlands  and 
villages.  There  are  also  a  great  many  places  in  the 
north  and  north-west,  called  Creggan,  and  in  the 
south  and  west,  Creggane  and  Creggaun,  which 
are  diminutives  of  creag,  and  are  generally  applied 
to  rocky  land ;  Cargagh  and  Carrigagh,  meaning 
a  place  full  of  rocks,  are  the  names  of  several 

Clock  signifies  a  stone — any  stone  either  large 
or  small,  as,  for  instance,  cloch-shneachta,  a  hail- 
stone, literally  snow-stone  ;  cloch-teine,  fire-stone, 
i.  e.  a  flint.  So  far  as  it  is  perpetuated  in  local 
names,  it  was  applied  in  each  particular  case  to  a 
stone  sufficiently  large  and  conspicuously  placed  to 
attract  general  notice,  or  rendered  remarkable  by 
some  custom  or  historical  occurrence.  This  word 
is  also,  in  an  extended  sense,  often  applied  to  a 
stone  building,  such  as  a  castle  ;  for  example,  the 
castle  of  Glin  on  the  Shannon  in  Limerick,  the 
seat  of  the  Knight  of  Glin,  is  called  in  Irish 
documents  Cloch-gleanna,  the  stone  castle  of  the 
glen  or  valley.  It  is  often  difficult  to  determine 
with  certainty  which  of  these  two  meanings  it 
bears  in  local  names. 

Clock  is  one  of  our  commonest  topographical 

412  Physical  Features.  [PART  iv. 

roots  ;  in  the  English  forms  Clogh  and  Clough,  it 
constitutes  or  begins  more  than  400  townland 
names ;  and  it  helps  to  form  innumerable  others 
in  various  combinations.  Cloghbally  and  Clogh- 
vally,  which  are  common  townland  names,  repre- 
sent the  Irish  Cloch-bhaile,  stony-town ;  scattered 
over  Munster,  Connaught,  and  Ulster,  are  many 
places  called  Cloghboley  and  Cloghboola,  stony 
booley  or  dairy-place ;  and  Clogh voley,  Cloghvoola, 
and  Cloghvoula,  are  varied  forms  of  the  same 
name ;  Shanaclogh  and  Shanclogh  in  Munster  and 
Connaught,  old  stone  or  stone  castle. 

Sometimes  the  final  guttural  drops  out  and  the 
word  is  reduced  to  do ;  as  in  Clomantagh  in  Kil- 
kenny, in  which  no  guttural  appears,  though  there 
is  one  in  the  original  Cloch-Mantaigh,  the  stone  or 
stone-castle  of  Mantach,  a  man's  name  signifying 
toothless  (see  p.  109),  said  to  have  taken  its  name 
from  a  stone  circle  on  the  hill ;  Clonmoney  and 
Clorusk  in  Carlow,  the  former  signifying  the  stone 
of  the  shrubbery,  and  the  latter,  of  the  rusk  or 
marsh.  And  very  often  the  first  c  becomes  g  by 
eclipsis  (see  p.  22),  as  in  Carrownaglogh,  which 
conveys  the  sound  of  Ceathramhadh-na-gclogh 
(Book  of  Lecan),  the  quarter-land  of  the  stones. 

Names  formed  from  this  word,  variously  com- 
bined, are  found  in  every  part  of  Ireland :  when 
it  comes  in  as  a  termination,  it  is  usually  in  the 
genitive  (cloiche,  pron.  clohy},  and  in  this  case  it 
takes  several  modern  forms,  which  will  be  illus- 
trated in  the  following  names  : — Ballyclogh,  Bally- 
clohy,  Ballinaclogh,  Ballynaclogh,  and  Ballyna- 
cloghy,  all  names  of  frequent  occurrence,  mean 
stone  town,  or  the  town  of  the  stones.  Kilna- 
cloghy,  in  the  parish  of  Cloontuskert,  in  Roscom- 
mon,  is  called  Coill-na-cloiche  in  the  Four  Masters, 
the  wood  of  the  stone.  Aughnacloy  is  a  little 

CHAP,  i.]     Mountains,  Sills,  and  Rocks.  413 

town  in  Tyrone ;  and  there  are  several  townlands 
in  other  counties  of  the  same  name,  all  called  in 
Irish  Achadh-na-cloiche  [Ahanaclohy],  the  field  of 
the  stone. 

There  are  three  diminutives  of  this  word  in 
common  use — cloichin,  clochdg,  and  cloghdn — of 
which  the  third  has  been  already  dealt  with 
(p.  363).  The  first  is  generally  anglicised  Cloheen 
or  Clogheen,  which  is  the  name  of  a  town  in 
Tipperary,  and  of  several  townlands  in  Cork, 
Waterford,  and  Kildare.  Cloghoge  or  Clohoge, 
though  literally  meaning  a  small  stone  like  Clogh- 
een, is  generally  applied  to  stony  land,  or  to  a 
place  full  of  round  stones ;  it  is  the  name  of  about 
twenty  townlands,  chiefly  in  Ulster — a  few,  how- 
ever, being  found  in  Sligo  and  in  the  Leinster 

There  are  several  derivative  forms  from  this 
word  clock.  The  most  common  is  clochar,  which 
is  generally  applied  to  stony  laud — a  place 
abounding  in  stones,  or  having  a  stony  surface ; 
but  it  occasionally  means  a  rock.  Its  most  usual 
anglicised  form  is  Clogher,  which  is  the  name  of 
a  well-known  town  in  Tyrone,  of  a  village,  and  a 
remarkable  headland  in  Louth,  and  of  nearly  sixty 
townlands  scattered  over  Ireland ;  and  compounded 
with  various  words,  it  helps  to  form  the  names  of 
numerous  other  places. 

For  Clogher  in  Tyrone,  however,  a  different 
origin  has  been  assigned.  It  is  stated  that  there 
existed  anciently  at  this  place  a  stone  covered  with 
gold,  which  was  worshipped  as  Kermann  Kelstach, 
the  principal  idol  of  the  northern  Irish ;  and  this 
stone,  it  is  said,  was  preserved  in  the  church  of 
Clogher  down  to  a  late  period :  hence  the  place 
was  called  Cloch-oir,  golden  stone.  O'Flaherty 
makes  this  statement  in  his  Ogygia,  on  the  au- 

414  Physical  Features.  [PART  iv. 

thority  of  Cathal  Maguire,  Archdeacon  of  Clogher, 
the  compiler  of  the  Annals  of  Ulster,  who  died  in 
1495  ;  and  Harris  in  his  edition  of  Ware's  Bishops, 
notices  the  idol  in  the  following  words  : — "  Clogher, 
situated  on  the  river  Lanny,  takes  its  name  from 
a  Golden  Stone,  from  which,  in  the  Times  of 
Paganism,  the  Devil  used  to  pronounce  juggling 
answers,  like  the  Oracles  of  Apollo  Pythius,  as  is 
said  in  the  Register  of  Clogher." 

With  this  story  of  the  idol  I  have  nothing  to 
do ;  only  I  shall  observe  that  it  ought  to  be 
received  with  caution,  as  it  is  not  found  in  any 
ancient  authority ;  it  is  likely  that  Maguire's  state- 
ment is  a  mere  record  of  the  oral  tradition, 
preserved  in  his  time.  But  that  the  name  of 
Clogher  is  derived  from  it — i.  e.  from  Cloch-oir — 
I  do  not  believe,  and  for  these  reasons.  The  pre- 
valence of  the  name  Clogher  in  different  parts  of 
Ireland,  with  the  same  general  meaning,  "  is 
rather  damaging  to  such  an  etymon,"  as  Dr.  Reeves 
remarks,  and  affords  strong  presumption  that  this 
Clogher  is  the  same  as  all  the  rest.  The  most 
ancient  form  of  the  name,  as  found  in  Adamnan, 
is  Clochur  Filiorum  Daimeni  (this  being  Adamnan's 
translation  of  the  proper  Irish  name,  Clochur-mac- 
Daimhin,  Clochur  of  the  sons  of  Daimhin) ;  in 
which  the  final  syllable  ur  shows  no  trace  of  the 
genitive  of  or,  gold  (or,  gen.  oir)  ;  and,  besides, 
the  manner  in  which  Clochur  is  connected  with 
mac-Daimhin  goes  far  to  show  that  it  is  a  generic 
term,  the  construction  being  exactly  analogous  to 
Inis-mac-Nessan  (p.  109). 

But  farther,  there  is  a  direct  statement  of  the 
Origin  of  the  name  in  a  passage  of  the  Tain-bo- 
Chuailnge  in  Leabhar  na  hUidhre,  quoted  by  Mr 
J.  O'Beirne  Crowe  in  an  article  in  the  Kilkenny 
Archaeological  Journal  (April,  1869,  p.  311).  In 

CHAP,  i.]     Mountains,  Hills,  and  Hocks.  415 

this  passage  we  are  told  that  a  certain  place  on 
which  was  a  great  quantity  of  stones,  was  called 
for  that  reason  Mag  Clochair,  the  plain  of  the 
stones ;  and  Mr.  Crowe  remarks  : — "  Clochar,  as 
any  Irish  scholar  might  know,  does  not  mean  a 
stone  of  gold ;  the  form  clochar  irom  clock,  a  stone, 
is  like  that  of  sruthar  from  sruth,  a  stream,  and 
other  nouns  of  this  class  with  a  cumulative  sig- 

This  place  retains  its  ancient  name  in  the  latest 
Irish  authorities.  Daimhin,  whose  sons  are  com- 
memorated in  the  name,  was  eighth  in  descent 
from  Colla-da-Chrich  (p.  137),  and  lived  in  the 
sixth  century.  His  descendants  were  in  latter 
times  called  Clann-Daimhin  [Clan  Davin]  ;  and 
they  wrere  represented  so  late  as  the  fourteenth 
century,  by  the  family  of  Dwyer. 

Cloghereen,  little  stony  place,  a  diminutive  of 
clogher,  is  well  known  to  tourists  as  the  name  of  a 
village  near  Killarney.  Cloichredn,  or  cloithredn 
[cioherawnl ,  another  diminutive,  signifies  also  a 
stony  place,  and  is  found  in  every  part  of  Ireland 
in  different  modern  forms.  It  is  Cloghrane  in 
Kerry  and  "Waterf  ord  ;  and  in  the  county  of  Dublin 
it  gives  name  to  two  parishes  called  Cloghran.  In 
many  cases  the  guttural  has  dropped  out,  reducing 
it  to  Cloran  in  Westmeath,  Tipperary,  and  Galway ; 
Clorane  and  Clorhane  in  Limerick,  King's  and 
Queen's  County.  It  undergoes  various  other 
alterations — as  for  instance,  Clerran  in  Monaghan : 
Cleighran  in  Leitrim ;  Cleraun  in  Longford  ;  and 
Clerhaun  in  Mayo  and  Galway. 

Clochar  has  other  developments,  one  of  which, 
cloharach  or  cloithreach,  meaning  much  the  same  as 
clochar  itself — a  stony  place — is  found  pretty 
widely  spread  in  various  modern  forms ;  such  as 
Cloghera  in  Clare  and  Kerry;  and  Clerragh  in 

416  Physical  Features.  [PART  iv. 

Roscommon.  Another  offshoot  is  cloichearnach, 
with  still  the  same  meaning ;  this  is  anglicised 
Cloghernagh  in  Donegal  and  Monaghan ;  Claher- 
nagh  in  Fermanagh  ;  Clohernagh  in  Wicklow  and 
Tipperary ;  while  in  Tyrone  it  gives  the  name  of 
Clogherny  to  a  parish  and  four  townlands. 

The  word  leac,  lie,  or  Hag  [lack,  lick,  leeg] — for 
it  is  written  all  three  ways — means  primarily  a 
great  stone,  but  it  is  commonly  applied  to  a  flag  or 
large  flat  stone ;  thus  the  Irish  for  ice  is  leac-oidhre 
[lack-Ira],  literally  snow- flag.  The  most  ancient 
form  is  liac  or  liacc,  which  is  used  to  translate 
lapis  in  the  Wb.  and  Sg.  MSS.  of  Zeuss ;  and  it  is 
cognate  with  the  Welsh  llcch;  Lat.  lapis;  and 
Greek  lithos. 

This  word  occurs  very  often  in  Irish  names,  and 
in  its  local  application  it  is  very  generally  used  to 
denote  a  flat- surfaced  rock,  or  a  place  having  a 
level  rocky  surface.  Its  most  common  forms  are 
Lack,  Leek,  and  Lick,  which  are  the  names  of 
many  townlands  and  villages  through  Ireland,  as 
ivell  as  the  diminutives  Lackeen  and  Lickeen, 
little  rock.  The  form  Hag  is  represented  by  Leeg 
and  Leek  in  Monaghan,  and  by  Leeke  in  Antrim 
and  Londonderry. 

Lickmolassy,  a  parish  in  Gralway — St.  Molaise's 
flag- stone — was  so  called,  because  the  hill  on 
which  the  church  was  built  that  gave  name  to  the 
parish,  is  covered  on  the  surface  with  level  flag- 
like  rocks.  Legvoy,  a  place  in  Roscommon,  west 
of  Carrick-on-Shannon,  is  called  by  the  Four  Mas- 
ters Leagmhagh  [Legvah],  the  flag-surfaced  plain. 
The  celebrated  mountain  Slieve  League  in  Done- 
gal, is  correctly  described  by  its  name: — "A 
quarry  lately  opened  here,  shows  this  part  of  the 
mountain  to  be  formed  of  piles  of  thin  small  flags 
of  a  beautiful  white  colour And  here 

CHAP,  i.]     Mountains,  Hills,  and  Mocks.  417 

observe  how  much  there  is  in  a  name ;  for  Slieve 
League  means  the  mountain  of  flags."  ^ 

I  have  already  observed  (p.  355)  that  stony 
fords  are  very  often  designated  by  names  indi- 
cating their  character ;  and  I  will  give  a  few 
additional  illustrations  here.  Belleek  in  Ferman- 
agh, on  the  Erne,  east  of  Bally  shannon,  is  called 
in  Irish  authorities,  Bel-leice  [Bellecka]  "  trans- 
lated os  rupis  by  Philip  O'Sullivan  Bear  in  his 
history  of  the  Irish  Catholics.  The  name  signifies 
ford-mouth  of  the  flag- stone,  and  the  place  was  so 
called  from  the  flat-surfaced  rock  in  the  ford, 
which,  when  the  water  decreases  in  summer,  ap- 
pears as  level  as  a  marble  floor "  (O'Donovan, 
Four  Mast.  V.,  p.  134).  Belleek  is  also  the  name 
of  a  place  near  Ballina  in  Mayo,  which  was  so 
called  from  a  rocky  ford  on  the  Moy  ;  there  is  a 
village  of  the  same  name  near  Newtown  Hamilton, 
Armagh,  and  also  two  townlands  in  Gal  way  and 
Meath.  Ballinalack  is  the  name  of  a  village  in 
Westmeath,  a  name  originally  applied  to  a  ford 
on  the  river  Inny,  over  which  there  is  now  a 
bridge ;  the  correct  name  is  Bel-atha-na-leac  [Bella- 
nalack],  the  mouth  of  the  ford  of  the  flag-stones, 
a  name  that  most  truly  describes  the  place,  which 
is  covered  with  limestone  flags.  In  some  other 
cases,  however,  Ballinalack  is  derived  from  Baile- 
na-leac  the  town  of  the  flag-stones. 

Several  derivative  forms  from  leac  are  perpetu- 
ated in  local  names ;  one  of  these,  leacach,  signi- 
fying stony,  is  applied  topographically  to  a  place 
full  of  stones  or  flags,  and  has  given  the  name  of 
Lackagh  to  many  townlands  in  different  parts  of 
Ireland.  Several  places  of  this  name  are  men- 
tioned in  the  annals ;  for  instance,  Lackagh  in  tho 

*  From  "  The  Donegal  Highlands,"  Murray  and  Co.,  Dublin. 
VOL.  I.  28 

418  Physical  Features.  PART  iv. 

parish  of  Innishkeel,  Donegal,  and  the  river 
Lackagh,  falling  into  Sheephaven,  same  county, 
both  of  which  are  noticed  in  the  Four  Masters. 

Leacan  is  one  of  the  most  widely  extended  of  all 
derivatives  from  leac,  and  in  every  part  of  the 
country  it  is  applied  to  a  hill- side.  In  the  modern 
forms  of  Lackan,  Lacken,  Lackaun,  Leckan, 
Leckaun,  and  Lickane,  it  gives  name  to  more 
than  forty  townlands,  and  its  compounds  are  still 
more  numerous.  Lackandarra,  Lackandarragh, 
and  Lackendarragh,  all  signify  the  hill-side  of 
the  oak ;  Ballynalackan  and  Ballynalacken,  the 
town  of  the  hill- side.  Lackan  in  the  parish  of 
Kilglass  in  Sligo  was  formerly  the  residence  of 
the  Mac  Firbises,  where  their  castle,  now  called 
Castle  Forbes  (i.  e.  Firbis),  still  remains;  and 
here  they  compiled  many  Irish  works,  among 
others,  the  well-known  Book  of  Lecan.  The  form 
Lacka  is  also  very  common  in  local  names,  with 
the  same  meaning  as  leacdn,  viz.,  the  side  of  a  hill; 
Lackabane  and  Lackabaun,  white  hill- side. 

The  two  words,  leaca  and  leacdn,  also  signify 
the  cheek ;  it  may  be  that  this  is  the  sense  in 
which  they  are  applied  to  a  hill- side,  and  that  in 
this  application  no  reference  to  leac,  a  stone  was 

"  Boireann  (burren),  a  large  rock ;  a  stony,  rocky 
district.  It  is  the  name  of  several  rocky  districts 
in  the  north  and  south  of  Ireland  "  (O'Donovan, 
App.  to  O'Reilly's  Diet,  in  wee].  In  a  passage 
from  an  ancient  MS.  quoted  by  O'Donovan,  it  is 
fancifully  derived  from  borr,  great,  and  onn,  a 

A  considerable  number  of  local  names  are  de- 
rived from  this  word ;  one  of  the  best  known  is 
Burren  in  Clare,  an  ancient  territory,  very  often 
mentioned  in  the  annals,  which  is  as  remarkable 

;-HAP.  i.~]     Mountains,  Hills,  and  Rocks  419 

for  its  stony  character  as  it  is  celebrated  for  its 
oyster-bank.  Burren  is  the  name  of  eleven  town- 
lands,  some  of  which  are  found  in  each  of  the 
provinces  ;  there  is  a  river  joining  the  Barrow  at 
the  town  of  Carlow,  called  Burren,  i.  e.  rocky 
river;  and  in  Dublin,  the  word  appears  in  the 
name  of  the  Burren  rocks  near  the  western  shore 
of  Lambay  island. 

There  are  many  places  whose  names  are  partly 
formed  from  this  word : — Burrenrea  in  Cavan,  and 
Burrenreagh  in  Down,  both  meaning  grey  burren. 
Cloonburren  on  the  west  bank  of  the  Shannon, 
nearly  opposite  Clonmacnoise,  is  frequently  men- 
tioned in  the  annals,  its  Irish  name  being  Cluain- 
boireann,  rocky  meadow.  Rathborney,  a  parish 
in  Clare,  received  its  name — Rath-Boirne,  the  fort 
of  Burren — from  the  district  in  which  it  is  situated. 
The  plural,  boirne  (bourny),  is  modernised  into 
Burnew,  i.  e.  rocky  lands  in  the  parish  of  Killin- 
kere,  Cavan;  in  the  form  Bourney,  it  is  the  name 
of  a  parish  in  Tipperary ;  and  near  Aghada  in  Cork 
is  a  place  called  Knockanemorney,  in  Irish  Cnocan- 
na-mboirne,  the  little  hill  of  the  rocks. 

The  word  carr,  though  not  found  in  the  diction- 
aries, is  understood  in  several  parts  of  Ireland  to 
mean  a  rock,  and  sometimes  rocky  land.  It  is 
probable  that  carraig,  a  rock,  earn,  a  monumental 
heap  of  stones,  and  cairthe,  a  pillar- stone,  are  all 
etymologically  connected  with  this  word. 

Carr  is  the  name  of  three  townlands  in  Down, 
Fermanagh,  and  Tyrone ;  and  it  forms  part  of 
several  names  ;  such  as  Carcullion  in  the  parish  of 
Clonduff,  Down,  the  rock  or  rocky  land  of  the 
holly ;  Gortahar  in  Antrim,  Gort-a'-chairr,  the 
field  of  the  rock.  In  the  parish  of  Clonallan, 
Down,  is  a  place  called  Carrogs,  little  rocks.  There 
is  another  diminutive  common  in  the  west  of  Ire- 

420  Physical  Features.  £PART  rv. 

land,  namely,  cairthm,  which  is  anglicised  as  it  is 
pronounced,  Carheen;  it  generally  means  rocky 
land,  but  in  some  places  it  is  understood  to  mean 
a  cahereen,  that  is  a  little  caher  or  stone  fort,  and 
occasionally  a  little  cairthe,  or  pillar- stone  (see  pp. 
284,  343)  ;  the  English  plural  Carheens,  and  the 
Irish  Carheeny,  both  meaning  little  rocks  or  little 
stone  forts,  are  the  names  of  several  places  in 
Galway,  Mayo,  and  Limerick. 

The  third  diminutive,  carran,  is  more  generally 
used  than  either  of  the  two  former,  and  it  has 
several  anglicised  forms,  such  as  Caran,  Caraun, 
Carran,  and  Carraun.  It  is  often  difficult  to  fix 
the  meaning  of  these  words ;  they  generally  signify 
rocky  land,  but  they  are  occasionally  understood  to 
mean  a  reaping-hook,  applied  in  this  sense,  from 
some  peculiarity  of  shape  ;  and  Caran  and  Carran 
are  sometimes  varied  forms  of  earn.  Craan,  Craane, 
and  Crane,  which  are  the  names  of  a  number  of 
places,  are  modifications  which  are  less  doubtful 
in  meaning ;  they  are  almost  confined  to  Carlo w, 
and  "Wexford,  and  are  always  applied  to  rocky 
land — land  showing  a  rocky  surface. 

Sceir  [sker]  means,  according  to  the  dictionaries, 
a  sharp  sea  rock  ;  sceire  [skerry],  sea  rocks ;  Scan- 
dinavian sker,  a  reef,  skere,  reefs.  It  is  applied  to 
rocks  inland,  however,  as  well  as  to  those  in  the 
sea,  as  is  proved  by  the  fact,  that  there  are  several 
places  far  removed  from  the  coast  whose  names 
contain  the  word.  It  enters  pretty  extensively 
into  local  nomenclature,  and  its  most  usual  forms 
are  either  Scar,  Skerry,  or  the  plural  Skerries, 
which  are  the  names  of  several  well-known  places. 

Sceilig  [skellig],  according  to  O'Reilly,  means  a 
rock  ;  the  form  scillic  occurs  in  Cormac's  Glossary 
in  the  sense  of  a  splinter  of  stone  ;  and  O'Donovan, 
in  the  Four  Masters,  translates  Sceillic,  sea  rock. 

CHAP,  i.]     Mountains,  Hills,  and  Itocks.  421 

There  are,  however,  as  in  the  case  of  sceir,  some 
places  inland  whose  names  are  derived  from  it. 

The  most  remarkable  places  bearing  the  name 
of  Sceilig  are  the  great  and  little  Skelligs,  two 
lofty  rocks  off  the  coast  of  Kerry.  Great  Skellig 
was  selected,  in  the  early  ages  of  Christianity,  as 
a  religious  retreat,  and  the  ruins  of  some  of  the 
primitive  cells  and  oratories  remain  there  to  this 
day ;  the  place  was  dedicated  to  the  Archangel 
Michael,  and  hence  it  is  called  in  Irish  authorities, 
Sceilig  Mhichil,  Michael's  skellig  or  sea  rock.  From 
these  rocks  the  Bay  of  Ballinskelligs,  on  the  coast 
of  Iveragh,  took  its  name. 

One  of  the  little  ruined  churches  in  Grlendalough, 
which  is  situated  under  the  crags  of  Lugduff 
mountain,  is  called  Templenaskellig,  the  church  of 
the  rock,  and  this  skellig  or  rock  is  often  mentioned 
in  the  old  Lives  of  St.  Kevin.  Bunskellig,  the 
foot  of  the  rock,  is  a  place  near  Eyeries  on  Ken- 
mare  Bay ;  and  in  Tyrone  there  are  two  townlanda 
called  Skelgagh,  an  adjective  formation  from  sceilig, 
signifying  rocky  land. 

Speilic  is  used  in  Louth  in  the  sense  of  a  splintery 
rock,  but  it  is  very  probably  a  corruption  of  sceilig  ; 
it  has  given  name  to  Spellickanee  in  the  parish  of 
Ballymascanlan,  which  is  in  Irish,  Speilic-an-fhiaich, 
the  rock  of  the  raven.  Among  the  Mourne  moun- 
tains it  is  pronounced  spellig ;  and  the  adjective 
form  speilgeach  [spelligagh],  is  understood  there  to 
denote  a  place  full  of  pointed  rocks. 

Spine  [spink]  is  used  in  several  parts  of  Ire- 
land to  denote  a  point  of  rock,  or  a  sharp  over- 
hanging cliff ;  but  it  is  employed  more  generally 
on  the  coast  of  Donegal  than  elsewhere.  It  has 
not  given  names  to  many  places,  however,  even  in 
Donegal,  where  it  is  most  used.  There  is  a  town- 
land  in  King's  County,  called  Spink;  and  near 

\'2§  Physical  Features.  [pARt  IT". 

Tallaght  in  Dublin,  rises  a  small  hill  called  Spinkaa, 
little  spink  or  pinnacle. 

There  are  other  terms  for  hills,  such  as  druitn, 
eudan,  ceann,  &c.,  but  these  will  be  treated  of  in 
another  chapter. 



Magh  [maw  or  moy]  is  the  most  common  Irish 
word  for  a  plain  or  level  tract ;  Welsh  ma.  It  is 
generally  translated  campus  by  Latin  writers,  .aid 
it  is  rendered planities  in  the  Annals  of  Tighernach. 
It  is  a  word  of  great  antiquity,  and  in  the  Latinised 
form  magus — which  corresponds  with  the  old  Irish 
orthography  mag — it  is  frequently  used  in  ancient 
Gaulish  names  of  places,  such  as  Csesaromagus, 
Drusomagus,  Noviomagus,  Rigomagus,  &c.  (Gram. 
Celt.,  p.  9).  It  occurs  also  in  the  Zeuss  MSS., 
where  it  is  given  as  the  equivalent  of  campus.  The 
word  appears  under  various  forms  in  anglicised 
names,  such  as  magh,  moy,  ma,  mo,  &c. 

Several  of  the  great  plains  celebrated  in  former 
ages,  and  constantly  mentioned  in  Irish  authorities, 
have  lost  their  names,  though  the  positions  of  most 
of  them  are  known.  Magh-breagh  [Moy-bra],  the 
great  plain  extending  from  the  Liffey  northwards 
towards  the  borders  of  the  present  county  of  Louth, 
may  be  mentioned  as  an  example.  The  word  breagh 
signifies  fine  or  beautiful,  and  it  is  still  preserved 
both  in  sound  and  sense  in  the  Scotch  word  bratc ; 
Magh-breagh  is  accordingly  translated,  in  the  An- 
nals of  Tighernach,  Planities  amcena,  the  delightful 

CHAP,  ii.]  Plains,  Vallci/s,IIoUoicst  and  Caves.     423 

plain ;  and  our  "  rude  forefathers  "  never  left  us  a 
name  more  truly  characteristic.*  In  its  application 
to  the  plain,  however,  it  has  been  forgotten  for 
generations,  though  it  is  still  preserved  in  the  name 
of  Slieve  Bregh,  a  hill  between  Slane  and  Collon, 
signifying  the  hill  of  Magh-breagh. 

Many  of  the  celebrated  old  plains  still  either 
partly  or  wholly  retain  their  original  names, 
and  of  these  I  will  mention  a  few.  Macosquin, 
now  a  parish  in  Londonderry,  is  called  in  the 
annals,  Mag  h-Cosg  rain,  the  plain  of  Cosgran,  a 
man's  name  very  common  both  in  ancient  and 
modern  times.  There  is  a  village  called  Movilla 
near  Newtownards  in  Down,  where  a  great 
monastery  was  founded  by  St.  Finnian  in  the 
sixth  century  ;  its  Irish  name  is  Maghbile  (O'Cler. 
Cal.),  the  plain  of  the  ancient  tree;  and  there 
is  another  place  with  the  same  Irish  name 
in  the  east  of  Inishowen  in  Donegal,  now 
called  Moville,  which  was  also  a  religious  estab- 
lishment, though  not  equally  ancient  or  important. 

Mallow  in  Cork  is  called  in  Irish  Magh-Ealla, 
[Moyalla :  Four  Mast.],  the  plain  of  the  river  Ealla, 
or  Allow.  The  stream  now.  called  the  Allow  is  a 
small  river  flowing  into  the  Blackwater  through 

*  Notwithstanding  the  authority  of  Tighernach,  I  fear  this 
translation  is  incorrect.  Any  one  who  examines  the  way  in 
which  the  name  Breg  (in  all  its  inflections)  is  used  in  old  Irish 
writings,  will  see  at  once  that  it  is  not  an  adjective,  but  a 
plural  noun  ;  that  it  is  never  used  in  the  singular ;  and  furti~r 
that  it  was  the  name  of  a  people  :  Brega,  (the  nom.  plural 
form)  being  a  term  exactly  corresponding  with  Angli,  Cutinani, 
Celti,  &c.  According  to  this,  Mag-Breg,  or  in  later  Irish, 
Magh-Breagh,  signifies,  not  delightful  plain,  but  the  plain  of 
the  Brega,  who  were  I  suppose  the  original  inhabitants.  As  a 
further  confirmation  of  this,  and  as  a  kind  of  set-off  against  the 
authority  of  Tighernach,  we  find  Sliabh-Breagh  translated  in 
the  Lives  of  SS.  Fanchea  and  Columbkille,  Mons-Bregarum 
the  mountain  of  the  Brep^  See  J.  O'Beirne  Crowe'n  note 
in  Kilk.  Arch.  Jour.  1  !3/2,  p.  181. 

424  Physical  Features.  [PART  iv. 

Kanturk,  ten  or  eleven  miles  from  Mallow ;  but  the 
Blackwater  itself,  for  at  least  a  part  of  its  course, 
was  anciently  called  Allow  ;*  from  this  the  district 
between  Mallow  and  Kanturk  was  called  Magh- 
Ealla,  which  ultimately  settled  down  as  the  name 
of  the  town  of  Mallow.  The  river  also  gave  name 
to  the  territory  lying  on  its  north  bank,  west  of 
Kanturk,  which  is  called  in  Irish  authorities, 
Duthaigh  Eatta  [Doohyalla],  i.  e.  the  district  of 
;he  Allow,  now  shortened  to  Duhallow. 

Magunihy,  now  a  barony  in  Kerry,  is  called 
by  the  Four  Masters,  in  some  places,  Magh- 
gCoindnne  [Magunkinny],  and  in  others,  Magh- 
0-gCoinchinn,  i.  e.  the  plain  of  the  O'Coincinns  ; 
from  the  former  of  which  the  present  name  is 
derived.  The  territory,  however,  belonged  250 
years  ago  to  the  O'Donohoes,  and,  according  to 
O'Heeren,  at  an  earlier  period  to  O'Connells: 
of  the  family  of  O'Conkin,  who  gave  name  to  the 
territory,  I  have  found  no  further  record. 

The  form  Moy  is  the  most  common  of  any.  It 
is  itself,  as  well  as  the  plural  Moys  (i.  e.  plains), 
the  name  of  several  places,  and  forms  part  of  a 
large  number.  Moynalty  in  Meath  represents 
the  Irish  Magh-nealta,  the  plain  of  the  flocks ; 
this  was  also  the  ancient  name  of  the  level  coun- 
try lying  between  Dublin  and  Howth  (see  p.  161) ; 
and  the  bardic  Annals  state  that  it  was  the  only 
plain  in  Ireland  not  covered  with  wood,  on  the 
arrival  of  the  first  colonies.  The  district  between 
the  rivers  Erne  and  Drowes  is  now  always  called 
the  Moy,  which  partly  preserves  a  name  of  great 
antiquity.  It  is  the  celebrated  plain  of  Magh- 
gCedne  [genn#],  so  frequently  mentioned  in  the 

*  See  a  Paper  by  the  author,  on  "  Spenser's  Irish  Rivers," 
Proc.  R.I.A.,  Vol.  X.,  p.  1. 

CHAP,  ii.]  Plains,  Valleys,  Hollows,  and  Caves.    425 

accounts  of  the  earliest  colonists  ;  and  it  was  here 
the  Fomorian  pirates  of  Tory  (p.  162),  exacted 
their  oppressive  yearly  tribute  from  the  Nem- 

This  word  assumes  other  forms  in  several  coun- 
ties, such  as  Maw,  Maws,  Moigh,  and  Muff.  In 
accordance  with  the  Munster  custom  of  restoring 
the  final  g  (p.  31),  it  is  modified  to  Moig  in  the 
name  of  some  places  near  Askeaton,  and  else- 
where in  Limerick ;  and  this  form,  a  little 
shortened,  appears  in  Mogeely,  a  well-known 
place  in  Cork,  which  the  Four  Masters  call  Magh- 
IlS,  the  plain  of  lie  or  Eile,  a  man's  name. 
There  is  a  parish  in  Cork,  east  of  Macroom,  called 
Cannaway,  orinlrish  Ceann-d '-mhaighe  [Cannawee], 
the  head  of  the  plain  ;  the  same  name  is  anglicised 
Cannawee  in  the  parish  of  Kilmoe,  near  Mizen 
Head  in  the  same  county;  while  we  find  Kil- 
canavee  in  the  parish  of  Mothell,  Waterford, 
and  Kilcanway  near  Mallow  in  Cork,  both  signi- 
fying the  church  at  the  head  of  the  plain. 

There  is  one  diminutive,  maighin  [moyne], 
which  is  very  common,  both  in  ancient  and 
modern  names ;  it  occurs  in  the  Zeuss  MSS.  in 
the  form  magen,  where  it  is  used  in  the  sense  of 
locus ;  and  we  find  it  in  the  Four  Masters,  when 
they  record  the  erection,  in  1460,  by  Mac  William 
Burke,  of  the  celebrated  abbey  of  Maighin  or 
Moyne  in  Mayo.  The  ruins  of  this  abbey  still 
remain  near  the  river  Moy,  in  the  parish  of 
Killala,  county  Mayo.  This,  as  well  as  the  vil- 
lage of  Moyne  in  Tipperary,  and  about  a  dozen 
places  of  the  same  name  in  the  three  southern 
provinces,  were  all  so  called  from  a  maighin  or  little 
plain.  Maine  and  Mayne,  which  are  the  names  oi 
several  places  from  Derry  to  Cork,  are  referable 
to  the  same  root,  though  a  few  of  them  may  be 
from  meadhon  [maan],  middle. 

426  Physical*  Features.  [PART  i\ . 

Machaire  [magheraj,  a  derivative  from  magh, 
and  meaning  the  same  thing,  is  very  extensively 
used  in  our  local  nomenclature.  It  generally  ap- 
pears in  the  anglicised  forms  of  Maghera  and 
Maghery,  which  are  the  names  of  several  villages 
and  townlands ;  Maghera  is  the  more  usual  form, 
and  it  begins  the  names  of  nearly  200  places, 
which  are  found  in  each  of  the  four  provinces,  but 
are  more  common  in  Ulster  than  elsewhere.  The 
parish  of  Magheradrool  in  Down,  is  called  in 
the  Reg.  Prene,  Machary-edargawal,  which  repre- 
sents the  Irish,  Machaire-eadar-ghabhal  [Maghera- 
addrool],  the  plain  between  the  (river)  forks. 
(Reeves,  Eccl.  Ant.,  p.  316.  See  Addergoole). 

Reidh  [ray]  signifies  a  plain,  a  level  field ;  it  ia 
more  commonly  employed  in  the  south  of  Ireland 
than  elsewhere,  and  it  is  usually  applied  to  a 
mountain-flat,  or  a  coarse,  moory,  level  piece  of 
land  among  hills.  Its  most  general  anglicised 
forms  are  rea,  re,  and  rey. 

In  the  parish  of  Ringagonagh,  Waterford,  there 
is  a  townland  called  Readoty,  which  is  modernised 
from  R:  idh-doighte,  burnt  mountain-plain :  Reana- 
gishagh  in  Clare,  the  mountain- flat  of  the  kishes 
or  wicker  causeways ;  Remeen  in  Kilkenny,  smooth 
plain  ;  Ballynarea,  near  Newtown  Hamilton,  Ar- 
magh, the  town  of  the  mountain-flat.  Reidhleach 
[Relagh],  a  derivative  from  reidh,  and  meaning 
the  same  thing,  gives  names  to  some  places  in 
Tyrone,  Fermanagh,  and  Cavan,  in  the  modernised 
form,  Relagh. 

Reidh  is  also  used  as  an  adjective,  signifying 
ready  or  prepared ;  and  from  this,  by  an  easy 
transition,  it  has  come  to  signify  clear,  plain,  or 
smooth  ;  it  is  probable  indeed  that  the  word  was 
primarily  an  adjective,  and  that  its  use  as  a  noun 
to  designate  a  plain  is  merely  a  secondary  applica- 

JHAP.  ii.]  Plains,  Valleys,  Hollows,  and  Caves.  427 

tion.  There  is  a  well-known  mountain  over  the 
Killeries  in  Connemara,  called  Muilrea ;  and  this 
name  characterizes  its  outline,  compared  with  that 
of  the  surrounding  hills,  when  seen  from  a 
moderate  distance : — Mael-reidh,  smooth  flat  moun- 
tain (see  Mael,  p.  395).  Rehill  is  the  name  of 
some  places  in  Kerry  and  Tipperary,  which  are 
called  in  Irish,  Reidh-choill,  smooth  or  clear  wood, 
probably  indicating  that  the  woods  to  which  the 
name  was  originally  applied  were  less  dense  or 
tangled,  or  more  easy  to  pass  through,  than  others 
in  the  same  neighbourhood. 

Clar  is  literally  a  board.,  and  occurs  in  this  sense 
in  the  Zeuss  MSS.  in  the  old  form  claar,  which 
glosses  tabula.  It  is  applied  lo«ally  to  a  flat  piece 
of  land  ;  and  in  this  sense  it  gives  name  to  a  con- 
siderable number  of  places.  Ballyclare  is  the 
name  of  a  town  in  Antrim,  and  of  half  a  dozen 
townlands  in  Roscommon  and  the  Leinster  coun- 
ties, signifying  the  town  of  the  plain.  Ballinclare 
is  often  met  with  in  Leinster  and  Munster,  and 
generally  means  the  same  thing;  but  it  may 
signify  in  some  places  the  ford  of  the  plank,  as  it 
does  in  case  of  Ballinclare  in  the  parish  of  Kil- 
macteige  in  Sligo,  which  is  written  Bel-an-chldir 
by  the  Four  Masters  (see  for  plank-bridges,  2nd 
Vol.,  Chap,  xin.)  There  is  a  place  in  Galway 
which  was  formerly  called  by  this  name,  where  a 
great  abbey  was  founded  in  the  thirteenth  century, 
and  a  castle  in  the  sixteenth,  both  of  which  are 
still  to  be  seen  in  ruins ;  the  place  is  mentioned 
by  the  Four  Masters,  who  call  it  Baile-an-chlair, 
but  it  retains  only  a  part  of  this  old  name,  being 
now  called  Clare- Galway  to  distinguish  it  from 
other  Clares. 

Clare  is  by  itself  the  name  of  many  places,  some 
of  which  are  found  in  each  of  the  four  provinces. 

428  Physical  Features.  [PART  iv. 

The  county  of  Clare  was  so  called  from  the  village 
of  the  same  name  ;  and  the  tradition  of  the  people 
is,  that  it  was  called  Clare  from  a  board  formerly 
placed  across  the  river  Fergus  to  serve  as  a  bridge. 
Very  often  the  Irish  form  clar  is  preserved  un- 
changed :  as  in  Clarcarricknagun  near  Donegal, 
the  plain  of  the  rock  of  the  hounds ;  Clarbane  in 
Armagh,  white  plain;  Clarderry  in  Monaghan, 
level  oak-wood.  Clarkill  in  Armagh,  Down,  and 
Tipperary,  and  Clarehill  in  Deny,  are  not  much 
changed  from  the  original,  Clarchoill,  level  wood. 
In  the  three  last  names  clar  is  used  as  an  adjective. 

The  form  Claragh,  signifying  the  same  as  clar 
itself — a  level  place — is  much  used  as  a  townland 
name ;  Claraghatlea  in  the  parish  of  Drishane  in 
Cork,  Clarach-a'-tsleibke,  the  plain  of  (i.  e.  near) 
the  mountain.  Sometimes  this  is  smoothed  down 
to  Clara,  which  is  the  name  of  a  village  in  King's 
County,  and  of  several  other  places ;  Clarashinnagh 
near  Mohill  in  Leitrim,  the  plain  of  the  foxes. 
And  lastly,  there  are  several  places  called  Clareen, 
little  plain. 

The  word  gleann  [pron.  gloun  in  the  south,  glan 
elsewhere],  has  exactly  the  same  signification  as 
the  English  word  glen.  Though  they  are  nearly 
identical  in  form,  one  has  not  been  derived  from 
the  other,  for  the  English  word  exists  in  the 
Ang.-Saxon,  and  on  the  other  hand,  gleann  is  used 
in  Irish  MSS.  much  older  than  the  Anglo-Norman 
invasion,  as  for  instance  in  Lebor-na-h  Uidhre. 

The  two  words  Glen  and  Glan  form  or  begin  the 
names  of  more  than  600  places,  all  of  them,  with 
an  occasional  exception,  purely  Irish  ;  and  they  are 
sprinkled  through  every  county  in  Ireland.  The 
most  important  of  these  are  explained  in  other  parts 
of  this  book,  and  a  very  few  illustrations  will  be 
sufficient  here.  Glennamaddy,  the  name  of  a 

CHAP.  IT.]  Plains,  Valkys,  Hollows,  and  Caves.    429 

village  in  Galway,  is  called  in  Irish,  Gleann-na- 
madaighe,  the  valley  of  the  dogs;  Glennagross 
near  Limerick,  of  the  crosses  ;  Glenmullion  near 
the  town  of  Antrim,  the  glen  of  the  mill ;  CHendine 
and  Glandine,  the  names  of  several  places  in  the 
Munster  and  Leinster  counties,  Gleann-doimhin, 
deep  glen : — the  Gap  of  Glendine  cuts  through 
the  Slieve  Bloom  mountains — right  across — under 
the  northern  base  of  Arderin  ;  and  the  same  name, 
in  the  form  of  Glendowan,  is  now  applied  to  a  fine 
range  of  mountains  in  Donegal,  which  must  have 
been  so  called  from  one  of  the  "  deep  valleys  " 
they  enclose. 

Sometimes  it  is  made  Glin,  of  which  one  of  the 
best  known  examples  is  Glin  on  the  Shannon,  in 
Limerick,  from  which  a  branch  of  the  Fitzgeralds 
derives  the  title  of  the  Knight  of  Glin.  The  full 
name  of  the  place,  as  given  by  the  Four  Masters, 
is  Gleann-Corbraighe  [Corbry],  Corbrach's  or 
Corbry's  Valley.  And  occasionally  we  find  it 
Glyn  or  Glynn,  of  which  we  have  a  characteristic 
example  in  the  village  and  parish  of  Glynn  in 
Antrim,  anciently  Gleann-fhinneachta.  The  geni- 
tive of  gkann  is  gleanna  [glanna],  and  sometimes 
glinn,  the  former  of  which  is  represented  by  glanna 
in  the  end  of  names  ;  as  in  Ballinglanna  in  Cork, 
Kerry,  and  Tipperary,  the  town  of  the  glen  ;  the 
same  as  Ballinglen  and  Ballyglan  in  other  counties. 

There  are  two  diminutives  in  common  use ;  the 
one,  gleanndn,  is  found  in  the  northern  counties  in 
the  form  of  Glennan,  while  in  Galway  it  is  made 
Glennaun.  The  other,  gleanntdn,  is  very  much 
used  in  the  south  and  west,  and  gives  names  to 
several  places  now  called  Glantane,  Glantaun, 
Glentane,  and  Glentaun — all  from  a  "  little  glen." 

The  plural  of  gkann  is  gkannta  or  gleanntaidhe 
[glanta,  glenty],  the  latter  of  which,  with  the 

430  Physical  Features.  [PAW-  iv. 

English  plural  superadded  to  the  Irish  (p.  32), 
gives  name  to  the  village  of  Grlenties  in  Donegal : 
it  is  so  called  from  two  fine  glens  at  the  'lead  of 
which  it  stands,  viz.,  the  glen  of  Stracashel  (the 
river- holm  of  the  cashel  or  stone  fort),  and  Glen- 
fada-na-sealga,  or  the  long  valley  of  the  hunting. 

When  this  word  occurs  in  the  end  of  names,  the 
g  is  sometimes  aspirated,  in  which  case  it  dis- 
appears altogether  both  in  writing  and  pronuncia- 
tion. Old  Leighlin  in  Carlow,  a  place  once  very 
much  celebrated  as  an  ecclesiastical  establishment, 
is  called  in  the  annals,  Leith-  ghlionn  [Lehlin], 
half  glen,  a  name  derived  from  some  peculiarity 
of  configuration  in  the  little  river-bed.  Crumlin 
is  the  name  of  a  village  near  Dublin,  and  of 
another  in  Antrim ;  there  are  also  eighteen  town- 
lands  of  this  name  in  different  counties  through 
the  four  provinces,  besides  Crimlin  in  Fermanagh, 
and  Cromlin  in  Leitrim :  Crumlin  was  also  the  old 
name  of  Hillsborough  in  Down.  In  every  one  of 
these  places  there  is  a  winding  glen,  and  in  the 
Antrim  Crumlin,  the  glen  is  traversed  by  a  river, 
whose  name  corresponds  with  that  of  the  glen,  viz., 
Camline,  which  literally  signifies  crooked  line. 
Crumlin  near  Dublin  takes  its  name  from  a  pretty 
glen  traversed  by  a  little  stream  passing  by  Inchi- 
core  and  under  the  canal  into  the  Liffey.  The 
Four  Masters  in  mentioning  this  CrumHn,  give 
the  true  Irish  form  of  the  names  of  all  those 
places,  Cruimghlinn,  curved  glen,  the  sound  of 
which  is  exactly  conveyed  by  Crumlin.  Sometimes 
in  pronouncing  this  compound,  a  short  vowel 
sound  is  inserted  between  the  two  root  words, 
which  preserves  the  g  from  aspiration ;  and  in 
this  manner  was  formed  Cromaglan,  the  name  of 
the  semicircularly  curved  glen  traversed  by  the 
Crinnagh  river,  which  falls  into  the  upper  lake  of 

<  HAP.  ii.]  Plains,  Valleys,  Hollows,  and  Caves.   431 

Killarney.  From  this,  the  fine  hill  rising  im- 
mediately over  the  stream,  and  overlooking  the 
upper  lake,  borrowed  the  name  of  Cromaglan ; 
and  it  is  now  hardly  necessary  to  add  that  this 
name  does  not  mean  "  drooping  mountain,"  as  the 
guide-books  absurdly  translate  it.  There  is  a 
townland  of  the  same  name  in  the  parish  of 
Tullylease  in  Cork,  now  called  Cromagloun. 

Lug  or  lag  signifies  a  hollow ;  when  used  topo- 
graphically, it  is  almost  always  applied  to  a  hollow 
in  a  hill ;  and  lag,  lig,  leg,  and  lug,  are  its  most 
common  forms,  the  first  three  being  more  usual  in 
Ulster,  and  the  last  in  Leinster  and  Connaught. 
The  word  is  not  so  much  used  in  Munster  as  in 
the  other  provinces. 

There  is  a  place  near  Balla  in  Mayo  called 
Lagnamuck,  the  hollow  of  the  pigs  ;  Lagnavid- 
doge  in  the  same  county  signifies  the  hollow  of  the 
plovers.  Leg  begins  the  names  of  about  100 
townlands,  almost  all  of  them  in  the  northern  half 
of  Ireland.  The  places  called  Legacurry,  Lega- 
chory,  and  Lagacurry,  of  which  there  are  about  a 
dozen,  are  all  so  called  from  a  caldron-like  pit  or 
hollow,  the  name  being  in  Irish  Lag-a'-choire,  the 
hollow  of  the  coire  or  caldron.  When  the  word 
terminates  names  it  takes  several  forms,  none 
differing  much  from  lug  ;  such  as  Ballinlig,  Baliin- 
lug,  Ballinluig,  Ballylig,  and  Ballylug,  all  common 
townland  names,  signifying  the  town  of  the  lug  or 

As  this  word  was  applied  to  a  hollow  in  a  moun- 
tain, it  occasionally  happened  that  the  name  of 
the  hollow  was  extended  to  the  mountain  itself, 
as  in  case  of  Lugduff  over  Glendalough  in  Wick- 
low,  black  hollow ;  and  Lugnaquillia,  the  highest 
of  the  Wicklow  mountains,  which  the  few  old 
people  who  still  retain  the  Irish  pronunciation  in 

432  Physical  Features.  [PART  TV. 

that  district,  call  Lug-na-gcoilleach,  the  hollow  of 
the  cocks,  i.  e.  grouse. 

The  diminutives  Lagan  and  Legan  occur  very 
often  as  townland  names,  but  it  is  sometimes 
difficult  to  separate  the  latter  from  liagan,  a  pillar 
stone.  The  river  Lagan  or  Logan,  as  it  is  called 
in  the  map  of  escheated  estates,  1609,  may  have 
taken  its  name  from  a  "little  hollow"  on  some 
part  of  its  course  ;  there  is  a  lake  in  Roscommon 
called  Lough  Lagan,  the  lake  of  the  little  hollow ; 
and  the  townland  of  Leggandorragh  near  Raphoe 
in  Donegal,  is  called  in  Irish  Lagan-dorcha,  dark 

Cum  [coom]  a  hollow ;  a  nook,  glen,  or  dell  in 
a  mountain  ;  a  valley  enclosed,  except  on  one  side, 
by  mountains  ;  corresponding  accurately  with  the 
Welsh  cum  and  English  comb.  The  Coombe  in 
Dublin  is  a  good  illustration,  being  as  the  name 
implies,  a  hollow  place. 

This  word  is  used  very  often  in  the  neighbour- 
hood of  Killarney  to  designate  the  deep  glens  of 
the  surrounding  mountains  ;  as  in  case  of  Coom- 
nagoppul  under  Mangerton,  whose  name  originated 
in  the  practice  of  sending  horses  to  graze  in  it  at 
certain  seasons — Cum-na-gcapall,  the  glen  of  the 
horses ;  and  there  is  another  place  of  the  same 
name  in  Waterford. 

The  most  usual  forms  are  coom  and  coum,  which 
form  part  of  many  names  in  the  Munster  coun- 
ties, especially  in  Cork  and  Kerry ;  thus  Coom- 
nahorna  in  Kerry,  the  valley  of  the  barley; 
Coomnagun  near  Killaloe,  of  the  hounds.  Lack- 
enacoombe  in  Tipperary — the  hill-side  of  the 
hollow — exhibits  the  word  as  a  termination. 
Commaun,  Commeen,  and  Cummeen,  little  hollow, 
are  often  met  with ;  but  as  the  two  latter  are 
often  sometimes  used  to  express  a  "  common,"  the 

CHAP,  ii.]  Plains,  Valleys,  Hollows,  and  Caves.   433 

investigator  must  be  careful  not  to  pronounce  too 
decidedly  on  their  meaning,  without  obtaining 
some  knowledge  of  the  particular  case.  Some- 
times the  initial  c  is  eclipsed,  as  in  the  case  of 
Baurtrigoum,  the  name  of  the  highest  summit  of 
the  Slieve  Mish  mountains  near  Tralee,  which 
signifies  the  barr  or  summit  of  the  three  corns  or 
hollows ;  and  the  mountain  was  so  called  because 
there  are  on  its  northern  face  three  glens  from 
summit  to  base,  each  traversed  by  a  stream. 

Beam  or  bearna  [barn,  barna],  a  gap;  it  is 
usually  applied  to  a  gap  in  a  mountain  or  through 
high  land ;  and  in  this  sense  it  is  very  generally 
applied  in  local  nomenclature,  commonly  in  the 
form  of  Barna,  which  is  the  name  of  about  a 
dozen  townlands,  and  enters  into  the  formation  of 
a  very  large  number.  Barnageehy  and  Barnana- 
geehy,  the  gap  of  the  wind,  is  a  name  very  often 
given  to  high  and  bleak  passes  between  hills ; 
and  the  mountain  rising  over  Ballyorgan  in 
Limerick,  is  called  Barnageeha,  from  a  pass  of 
this  kind  on  its  western  side.  Very  often  it  is 
translated  Windy  gap  and  Windgate :  there  is,  for 
instance,  a  remarkable  gap  with  the  former  name 
in  the  parish  of  Addergoole,  Mayo,  which  the 
Four  Masters  call  by  its  proper  Irish  name, 
Bearna  -  na  -  gaeithe.  Ballinabarny,  Ballybarney, 
Ballynabarna,  Ballynabarny,  Ballynabearna,  and 
Ballynaberny,  all  signify  the  town  of  the  gap. 

There  are  several  places  in  different  counties, 
called  by  the  Irish  name,  Bearna-dhearg  [Barna- 
yarrag],  red  gap,  and  anglicised  Barnadarrig  and 
Barnaderg.  The  most  remarkable  of  these  for 
its  historic  associations  is  Bearna-dhearg  between 
the  two  hills  of  Knockea  and  Carrigeenamronety, 
on  the  road  from  Kilmallock  in  Limerick  to 
Kildorrery  in  Cork.  It  is  now  called  in  English 
VOL.  i.  29 

434  Physical  Features.  [PART  iv. 

Redchair  or  Richchair,  which  is  an  incorrect 
form  of  the  old  Anglo-Irish  name  Redsherd,  as 
we  find  it  in  Dymmok's  "Treatise  of  Ireland," 
written  about  the  year  1600  (Tracts  relating  to 
Ireland,  Vol.  II. ,  p.  18 :  Irish  Arch.  Soc.),  i.  e. 
red  gap,  a  translation  of  the  Irish ;  sheard,  being 
a  West-English  term  for  a  gap.  There  is  a  gap 
in  the  mountain  of  Forth  in  Wexford,  which,* 
according  to  the  Glossary  quoted  at  page  44, 
supra,  is  also  called  Reed-sheard  or  Red- gap,  by 
the  inhabitants  of  Forth  and  Bargy. 

This  word  takes  other  forms,  especially  in  the 
northern  counties,  where  it  is  pretty  common ;  it 
is  made  barnet  in  several  cases,  as  in  Drumbarnet, 
the  ridge  of  the  gap,  the  name  of  some  places  in 
Donegal  and  Monaghan  ;  Lisbarnet  in  Down,  the 
fort  of  the  gap.  There  is  another  Irish  form 
used  in  the  north,  namely,  bearnas;  it  has  the 
authority  of  the  annals,  in  which  this  term  is 
always  used  to  designate  the  great  gap  of  Bar- 
nismore  near  Donegal ;  and  in  the  forms  Barnes 
and  Barnish,  it  gives  name  to  several  places  in 
Antrim,  Donegal,  and  Tyrone.  All  the  preceding 
modifications  are  liable  to  have  the  b  changed  to 
v  by  aspiration  (p.  19),  as  in  Ardvarness  in  Deny, 
Ardvarney  and  Ardvarna  in  several  other  counties, 
high  gap;  Ballyvarnet  near  Bangor  in  Down 
(Ballyvernock :  Inq.,  1623),  the  town  of  the  gap. 

The  diminutive  Bearndn  is  the  real  name  of 
the  remarkable  gap  in  the  mountain  now  called 
the  Devil's  Bit  in  Tipperary,  whose  contour  is  so 
familiar  to  travellers  on  the  Great  Southern  and 
Western  Railway ;  and  it  gives  name  to  the 
parish  of  Barnane-Ely,  i.  e.  the  little  gap  of  Eile, 
the  ancient  territory  in  which  it  was  situated. 

A  scealp  [scalp]  is  a  cleft  or  chasm  ;  the  word 
is  much  in  use  among  the  English-speaking  pea- 

CHAP,  ii.]  Plains,  Valleys,  Hollows,  and  Caves.  435 

santry  of  the  south,  who  call  a  piece  of  anything 
cut  off  by  a  knife  or  hatchet,  a  skelp.  The  well- 
known  mountain  chasm  called  the  Scalp  south  of 
Dublin  near  Enniskerry,  affords  the  best  known 
and  the  most  characteristic  application  of  the 
term,  and  it  is  worthy  of  remark  that  the  people 
of  the  place  pronounce  it  Skelp  :  there  are  other 
places  of  the  same  name  in  the  counties  of  Clare, 
Gralway,  Dublin,  and  "Wicklow.  Skelpy,  the 
name  of  a  townland  in  the  parish  of  Urney  in 
Donegal  is  an  adjective  form,  and  signifies  a 
place  full  of  skelps,  splits,  or  chasms.  Scalpnagoun 
in  Clare  is  the  cleft  of  the  calves ;  Moneyscalp  in 
Down,  the  shrubbery  of  the  chasm. 

Pott^  a  hole  of  any  kind ;  Welsh  pwtt;  Manx 
powll;  Breton  poutt ;  Cornish  pol ;  Old  High 
German  pful;  English  pool.  Topographically  it 
is  applied  to  holes,  pits,  or  caverns  in  the  earth, 
deep  small  pools  of  water,  very  deep  spots  in 
rivers  or  lakes,  &c. ;  in  the  beginning  of  angli- 
cised names  it  is  always  made  poll,  poul  or  pull ; 
and  as  a  termination  it  is  commonly  changed  to 
foyle,  phuill,  or  phull,  by  the  aspiration  of  the  p 
(p.  20),  and  by  the  genitive  inflexion ;  all  which 
forms  are  exhibited  in  Ballinfoyle,  Ballinphuill 
and  Ballinphull,  the  town  of  the  hole,  which  are 
the  names  of  many  places  all  over  the  country. 
Often  the  p  is  eclipsed  by  b  (p.  22)  as  in  Bally- 
naboll  and  Ballynaboul,  Baile-na-bpoll,  the  town 
of  the  holes. 

The  origin  of  the  name  Poolbeg,  now  applied 
to  the  lighthouse  at  the  extremity  of  the  South 
Wall  in  Dublin  bay,  may  be  gathered  from  a 
passage  in  Boate's  Natural  History  of  Ireland, 
written,  it  must  be  remembered,  long  before  the 
two  great  walls,  now  called  the  Bull  Wall  and 
the  South  Wall,  were  built.  He  states : — "  This 

436  Physical  Features.  [PART  i\ 

haven  almost  all  over  falieth  dry  with  the  ebbe, 
as  well  below  Rings- end  as  above  it,  so  as  you 
may  go  dry  foot  round  about  the  ships  which  lye 
at  an  anchor  there,  except  in  two  places,  one  at 
the  north  side,  and  the  other  at  the  south  side, 
not  far  from  it.  In  these  two  little  creeks 
(whereof  the  one  is  called  the  pool  of  Clontarf, 
and  the  other  Poolbeg)  it  never  falleth  dry,  but 
the  ships  which  ride  at  an  anchor  remain  ever 
afloat"  (Chap.  III.,  Sec.  n.).  The  "Pool  of 
Clontarf"  is  still  caUed  "The  Pool;"  and  the 
other  (near  which  the  lighthouse  was  built),  as 
being  the  smaller  of  the  two,  was  called  Poll-leag, 
little  pool. 

There  is  a  place  near  Arklow  called  Pollahoney, 
or  in  Irish,  Pott-a' -chotiaidh  the  hole  of  the  fire- 
wood ;  Pollnaranny  in  Donegal,  Pollrane  in  Wex- 
ford,  and  Pollranny  in  Roscommon  and  Mayo,  all 
signify  the  hole  of  the  ferns  ;  Polldorragha  near 
Tuam,  dark  hole ;  Pollaginnive  in  Fermanagh, 
sandpit ;  Polfore  near  Dromore,  Tyrone,  cold 
hole.  So  also  Pouldine  in  Tipperary,  deep  hole. 

The  diminutive  in  various  forms  is  also  pretty 
general.  The  Pullens  (little  caverns)  near  Do- 
negal, "  is  a  deep  ravine  through  which  a  moun- 
tain torrent  leaps  joyously,  then  suddenly  plunges 
through  a  cleft  in  the  rock  of  from  thirty  to  forty 
feet  in  depth,"  and  after  about  half  a  mile  "  it 
loses  itself  again  in  a  dark  chasm  some  sixty  feet 
deep,  from  which  it  emerges  under  a  natural 
bridge  "  (The  Donegal  Highlands,  p.  68).  There 
are  some  very  fine  sea  caves  a  little  west  of 
Castletown  Bearhaven  in  Cork,  which,  as  well  as 
the  little  harbour,  are  well  known  by  the  name  of 
Pulleen,  little  hole  or  cavern;  and  this  is  the 
name  of  some  other  places  in  Cork  and  Kerry. 
We  have  Pullans  near  Coleraine  in  Derry,  and  in 

CHAP,  ii.]  Plains,  Valleys,  Holloics,  and  Caves.   437 

the  parish  of  Clontihret,  Monaghan;  Pollans  in 
Donegal ;  and  Polleens  and  Polleeny  in  Galway, 
all  signifying  little  holes  or  caverns.  The  adjec- 
tive form  pollack  is  applied  to  land  full  of  pits  or 
holes,  and  it  has  given  name  to  ahout  thirty-five 
townlands  in  the  three  southern  provinces,  in  the 
forms  of  Pollagh  and  Pullagh. 

We  have  several  words  in  Irish  for  a  cave. 
Sometimes,  as  we  have  seen,  the  term  pott  was 
used,  and  the  combination  poll-talmhan  [Poultal- 
loon :  hole  of  the  earth]  was  occasionally  employed 
as  a  distinctive  term  for  a  cavern,  giving  name, 
in  this  sense,  to  Polltalloon  in  Galway,  and  to 
Poultalloon  near  Fedamore  in  Limerick. 

Dearo  or  derc  [derk]  signifies  a  cave  or  grotto, 
and  also  the  eye.  The  latter  is  the  primary 
meaning,  corresponding  with  Gr.  derJco,  I  see, 
and  its  application  to  a  cave  is  figurative  and 
secondary.  The  word  is  often  found  in  the  old 
MSS. ;  as,  for  instance,  in  case  of  Derc-ferna 
(cave  of  alders),  which  was  the  ancient  name  of 
the  Cave  of  Dunmore  near  Kilkenny,  and  which 
is  still  applied  to  it  hy  those  speaking  Irish.  In 
the  parish  of  Rathkenny  in  Meath  is  a  place 
called  Dunkerk,  the  fortress  of  the  cave ;  so 
named,  probahly,  from  an  artificial  cave  in  con- 
nection with  the  dun;  there  are  several  places 
called  Derk  and  Dirk,  both  meaning  simply  a 
cave;  and  Aghadark  in  Leitrim,  is  the  field  of 
the  cavern. 

Cuas  is  another  term  for  a  cave,  which  has  also 
given  names  to  a  considerable  number  of  places : 
Coos  and  Coose  are  the  names  of  some  townlands 
in  Down,  Monaghan,  and  Galway;  there  is  a 
remarkable  cavern  near  Cong  called  Cooslughoga, 
the  cave  of  mice ;  and  it  is  very  likely  that  Cozies 
in  the  parish  of  Billy,  Antrim,  is  merely  the 

438  Physical  Features.  P^ART  iv 

English  plural  of  Cuas,  meaning  "caves."  Cloon- 
coose,  Clooncose,  Cloncose,  and  Cloncouse,  are  the 
names  of  fourteen  townlands  spread  over  the  four 
provinces ;  the  Irish  form  is  Cluain-cuas  (Four 
Masters),  the  meadow  of  the  caves.  Sometimes 
the  c  is  changed  to  li  by  aspiration,  as  in  Corra- 
hoash  in  Cavan,  the  round- hill  of  the  cave ;  and 
often  we  find  it  eclipsed  by  g  (p.  22),  as  in 
Drumgoose  and  Drumgose,  the  names  of  some 
places  in  Armagh,  Tyrone,  and  Monaghan,  which 
represent  the  Irish  Druim-gcuas,  cave  ridge. 
There  are  several  places  called  Coosan,  Coosane, 
Coosaun,  and  Coosheen,  all  signifying  little  cave. 
Round  the  coasts  of  Cork  and  Kerry,  and  perhaps 
in  other  counties,  cuas  or  coos  is  applied  to  a  small 
sea  inlet  or  cove,  and  in  these  places  the  word 
must  be  interpreted  accordingly. 

There  is  yet  another  word  for  a  cave  in  very 
general  use,  which  I  find  spelled  in  good  autho- 
rities in  three  different  ways,  uagh,  uaimh,  and 
uath  [ooa]  ;  for  all  these  are  very  probably  nothing 
more  than  modifications  of  the  same  original. 
There  is  a  class  of  romantic  tales  in  Irish  "  re- 
specting various  occurrences  in  caves  :  sometimes 
the  taking  of  a  cave,  when  the  place  has  been 
used  as  a  place  of  refuge  or  habitation ;  sometimes 
the  narrative  of  some  adventure  in  a  cave ;  some- 
times of  a  plunder  of  a  cave;  and  so  on" 
(0' Curry,  Lect.,  p.  283^.  A  tale  of  this  kind 
was  called  uath,  i.  e.  cave. 

The  second  form  uaimh  is  the  one  in  most 
general  use,  and  its  genitive  is  either  uamha  or 
uamhain  [ooa,  ooan],  both  of  which  we  find  in  the 
annals.  Cloyne  in  Cork,  has  retained  only  part  of 
its  ancient  name,  Cluain-uamha,  as  it  is  written  in 
the  Book  of  Leinster  and  many  other  authorities, 
i.  e.  the  meadow  of  the  cave ;  this  was  the  o]d 

CHAP,  ii.]  Plains,  Valleys,  Hollows,  and  Caves.   439 

pagan  name,  which  St.  Colnaan  Mac  Lenin  adopted 
when  he  founded  his  monastery  there  in  the 
beginning  of  the  seventh  century ;  and  the  cave 
from  which  the  place  was  named  so  many  hundred 
years  ago,  is  still  to  be  seen  there.  At  A.  M. 
1350,  the  Four  Masters  record  the  erection  by 
Emhear,  of  Rath  uamhain,  i.  e.  the  fort  of  the  cave 
(O'Donovan's  Four  Masters,  I.,  27),  which  ex- 
hibits the  second  form  of  the  genitive. 

Both  of  these  genitives  are  represented  in  our 
present  names.  The  first  very  often  forms  the 
termination  oe  or  oo,  or  with  the  article,  nahoe,  or 
nahoo  ;  as  Drumnahoe  in  Antrim  and  Tyrone,  and 
Drumahoe  in  Derry,  i.  e.  Druim-na-huamha,  the 
ridge  of  the  cave ;  Farnahoe  near  Inishannon  in 
Cork  (Far-ran,  land) ;  Glennoo  near  Clogher  in 
Tyrone,  and  Glennahoo  in  Kerry,  the  glen  of  the 
cave.  And  occasionally  the  v  sound  of  the  aspir- 
ated m  comes  clearly  out,  as  in  Cornahoova  in 
Meath,  and  Cornahove  in  Armagh,  the  round-hill 
of  the  cave ;  the  same  as  Cornahoe  in  Monaghan 
and  Longford. 

The  other  genitive,  uamhain  [ooan],  is  also  very 
often  used,  and  generally  appears  in  the  end  of 
names  in  the  form  of  one  or  oon,  or  with  the  article, 
nahone  or  nahoon  ;  in  this  manner  we  have  Mullen- 
nahone  in  Kilkenny,  and  Mullinahone  in  Tip-